You look at the clock: It's 4:30 P.M. Your workday is nearly over, but your to-do list is nowhere near done. You look at it in horror as you realize there are items that have been on it for weeks, but that you've de-prioritized them again and again. You sigh. Procrastination has gotten the best of you again.
Or has it?
We all know procrastination can turn into the enemy if it keeps us from doing what we want. But more often than not, this isn't the case. Procrastination can actually improve your productivity and happiness. Here's why:
- Active procrastination makes you get more things done. Sure, you might not be getting the thing that you're procrastinating on done. But if you're an active procrastinator, the rest of your to-do list is probably getting cleared quickly. And once the rest of the things on your to-do list are done, then all you've got left is that one thing you were originally procrastinating on—and you've got no choice but to get on with it. (Now, if you're sitting on your sofa doing nothing, then you're a passive procrastinator and it really is time to get up and do something!)
- Unnecessary tasks disappear with procrastination. After procrastinating on a task for some time, you might look at it and not remember why it's even on your to-do list. This gives you an opportunity to reevaluate whether it's still important you do it. If you've procrastinated on it for a while, it could be that it's not even necessary or relevant to you anymore.
- Procrastination shines a light on what's most important to you. You're less likely to procrastinate on things you love to do or that really matter to you. If there's something you're struggling to get done, ask yourself why you're doing it in the first place. Purpose and passion will help you overcome any procrastination hurdle—or make you realize that you're procrastinating because you're working on the wrong thing.
- Procrastination makes you more creative. If you have a big, important task ahead of you, it's natural to procrastinate because it's so daunting. What you might not realize is that even when you're not actively working on that task, your mind is subconsciously collecting ideas and processing things to prepare you for it. That means that when you actually sit down to get to it, you have a lot more ideas in your head on how to go about it.
- Procrastination helps you to make better decisions. Sometimes you procrastinate on a decision because you're not entirely sure which is the right choice for you. Your rational mind and your intuition are saying opposite things, and you can't quite figure out which one to listen to—or who's saying what! That's when procrastination becomes your savior because you avoid jumping into something that might not be right for you. It buys you time to think about all the options and their pros and cons. Once the deadline arrives, you're ready to make the decision as you've done your research.
- Procrastination leads to better apologies. If you've done something wrong and you owe someone an apology, it's better to give them (and you) time to cool off. This helps you to come up with an authentic apology that clearly shows your regret and your learnings, as well as offers a reason why the mistake happened. It also gives the other party time to reflect on how this has impacted them so they can communicate this more effectively to you in a calm manner.
It's time we realized procrastination is not always the enemy, especially when it takes the form of active procrastination. Sometimes procrastination is your mind and intuition trying to tell you that you shouldn't be doing something—or telling you to process something before making a rushed decision.
If you're an active procrastinator (like I am), embrace it. Embrace it so you can get more things done. Embrace it so you can start listening to what your intuition is trying to tell you. Embrace it so you can start doing the things that matter the most to you. That's how you will welcome happiness into your life.