How To Use Procrastination To Your Advantage (Productive Procrastination)
Productive and procrastination. You would think that these two words don’t go together. You’re either productive or you’re procrastinating, right?
Well, it isn’t necessarily so black and white. In this article, I’ll explain why it’s possible to be a massive procrastinator and yet still get a ton of work done.
Ok, let’s look at it this way. Everything you do could be categorized into 3 tiers of importance. Tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3.
Tier 1 is the most important tier. This is where your most crucial work falls into.
Doing these tasks as soon as possible is necessary because they will have the biggest impact on your life.
For example, writing a thesis for your master’s degree, finishing a big project for your job, planning out your finances. The sooner you do these tasks the better.
Then we have tier 2. These activities are still important, but not as important as your main task in tier 1.
A few things that fall under this tier are: answering emails, cleaning the house, going to the gym.
You should do these tasks when you have time to spare and you’re not working on tier 1.
When you’re doing tier 2 work, you’re still being productive.
Then finally we have tier 3. This is where everything that doesn’t need to be done at all, falls under.
For example: scrolling through Instagram, watching TV, going out for a cup of coffee with someone you don’t care about.
By doing any of these tasks, you’re essentially wasting your time.
They are not important at all, and yet, it’s how most of us choose to spend our time.
While ideally, you’d want to do tier 1 work, sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to do it.
And no matter who you are, this happens to all of us, sooner or later.
There comes a time where there’s simply too much mental resistance towards our most important work. So we procrastinate.
But procrastination doesn’t mean we’re doing nothing or we’re just staring at a blank wall.
We’re still doing something, it’s just low level, unimportant stuff. Most of the time, we jump on a couch in front of a TV, while browsing our phones.
It’s almost as if we’re either super-productive, by doing tier 1 work, or we’re super lazy by doing tier 3.
Now, what would happen if you were to remove the possibility of doing tier 3 tasks altogether? Or at least make it harder for you to do them? What if you unplugged the TV, switched off the Internet, and hid your phone?
Essentially by doing this, you’d be removing the option to procrastinate by doing useless things.
However, you would still have the option to do tier 1 and tier 2 tasks. Staring at a wall is also an option, but believe me, you would get bored of it quickly and you would start doing something.
And that something is usually tier 2 work. When you’re procrastinating on something, you want to do anything else but that big project.
And whatever you choose to do, will feel like a piece of cake, compared to that tier 1.
So take advantage of that and do something that’s still worthwhile to do. And it’s up to you, to make sure that it’s at least tier 2 work.
So clean your desk, do the dishes, write down some goals, brainstorm a new idea, go to the gym, answer some emails.
Be productive on something that’s still worthwhile. Let me give you my personal example, of how I used this in my own life.
I was working on a project for work and I had a strict deadline when the project was due.
However one day, after working on that project for two weeks, I just couldn’t bring myself to continue working on it. So I started procrastinating.
Usually, whenever I’m putting something off, l like to browse the Internet. That is my biggest weakness.
However, because I’m aware of that weakness, I unplugged the Internet, so I was unable to go surfing through various websites.
Now because I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do, I got bored, fast. I wanted to do something that wasn’t work-related, but I removed my go-to option.
And because I didn’t want to do my tier 1, and tier 3 was blocked, I did tier 2 tasks instead.
I cleaned my entire apartment, practiced playing the piano for hours, I read 4 whole chapters of a book and I went to the gym.
Was I being productive? Sure. Was I procrastinating? Yeah, big time. You could say that I was procrastinating productively.
And all I had to do, was prevent myself from doing tier 3, unimportant stuff.
So the next time you see someone who’s super productive, it could be that they are just procrastinating on something and their seeming productivity is the result of that.
And you can replicate this in your life as well. Whenever you have something important to do, and you don’t feel like doing it, don’t jump straight to tier 3.
Instead, make it harder for yourself to even start on tier 3 tasks in the first place.
Boredom will then drive you to get up and do something, which hopefully will be at least tier 2 work.
This way you’ll at least do something worthwhile during your procrastination. Essentially you’ll become a productive procrastinator. Thanks for reading
Eat That Frog! By Brian Tracy