Personal Productivity Advice
Procrastination Is Healthy
Procrastination is healthy? It's a heretical statement to many, but I think it's true. A little procrastination now and then is a good thing.
Procrastination is healthy and good for the soul.
We are constantly discouraged from procrastinating yet the truth of the matter is that procrastination can be a good thing.
Procrastination is like a glass of fine wine.
Have one glass with a nice meal and you're in heaven.
Drink a few bottles of wine everyday and you're an alcoholic that is on a path to a self-destroyed life...the antithesis of heaven.
Today, Sunday, I woke up early, 5:00 AM, with what seems to be a nearly infinite to-do list. I'm talking about very important things that many people are waiting on, as well as a number of tasks that are important just to me and to my family.
It seems I've been on this same treadmill for the last two months...the to-do lists don't seem to be getting any shorter. (Note to self: need to fix that problem!)
Despite having a long to-do list, at 6:00 AM I found myself reading all about the Argonne and Fermilab budget cuts and in fact I wrote an article about Argonne and Fermilab budget cuts that you should read if you have some procrastination time of your own to spare and are interested in the merits of government-funded (i.e. funded by you) scientific research.
So did I screw up? I should have been hitting the to-do list but instead I learned about Argonne and Fermilab and wrote an article.
That's procrastination to be sure, but I'd argue that it's healthy procrastination.
To me, healthy procrastination means you're giving your brain and your body a break to recharge your batteries. You're still going to get your important tasks done but you're not going to get to them as quickly as the anti-procrastination advocates might want you to.
I'm fine with my procrastination and I think I've got it under control just fine, thank you.
When I procrastinate, I figure my body is giving me a strong message that it needs to procrastinate. With tens of thousands of years of evolution behind it, I'm going to trust that my body knows more than most so-called time-management experts do.
After all, all work and no play makes every one of us a dull boy. Without balance in life, we'll all become boring robots.
More importantly, I'm convinced that today's procrastination will actually make me better at the other tasks I do get to today.
Procrastination has got the synapses going and given me some new insights on the world. I'm going to apply that brain energy and that new perspective to the deliverables I'll be working on post-procrastination and they will be better for my having taken a break.
There's an academic study on procrastination that you may find interesting. The press release playfully notes that the author took ten years to complete the task, and one wonders whether there wasn't a fair bit of healthy procrastination involved.
Everything in moderation - that's the key to ensuring that your procrastination is healthy.
So when have you crossed the line from healthy procrastination to unhealthy procrastination? Here are three signs that you may have a problem:
- You Get Nothing Done On Your To-Do List. If your important to-do tasks are being put on the back burner permanently while you procrastinate and do other things, you've got a problem.
- Procrastination Is Causing Really Big Problems. If you've been fired for procrastinating, are failing out of school due to procrastination, are experiencing health problems due to stress induced by procrastinating, or your family is falling apart because you procrastinate too much, you've got a problem.
- You Find Yourself Excessively Rationalizing Your Procrastination. If you keep coming up with good reasons to procrastinate, you may have a problem but are too good at self-deceiving yourself into thinking that everything is fine.
Take a moment to assess your procrastination. Is it healthy? If so, no problem! If not, get on top of it. Don't procrastinate addressing your procrastination problem!
Share this article
Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs