Everyone, to some degree, procrastinates. We all put off things that we don’t want to do. That doesn’t mean we do nothing. Au contraire! Most procrastinators get plenty done; it just isn’t what is most important or urgent. Procrastination is the art of doing something else when there are more important things to do. There is a way to make procrastination work for you. Since all of us have this skill to varying degrees of proficiency we might as well put it to use.
The act of delaying is the true gift of procrastination. Until now you might not have thought of it as a gift, but it is. Many people get overbooked and overload their schedules with activities and commitments they don’t want to do because they said yes before they really thought about it. Delaying is a great way to prevent over- scheduling and saying yes to things you should decline. When someone asks you to do something, respond that you need to check your schedule. Ask for a day or two to think about it and tell them you will get back with your answer. Use procrastination as a tool to prevent yourself from getting overbooked.
Procrastination will also assist with getting a lot done. I know it sounds strange, but it works exceptionally well. The trick is to have a major project that needs completion, but that you don’t want to do it. My house was never cleaner than when I was working on my dissertation. My husband actually caught me outside cleaning the kitchen garbage can with a toothbrush. When he asked what I was doing I replied, “Avoiding working on my dissertation.” I knew exactly what I was doing and it worked. I got a lot accomplished including my dissertation. The key is to leverage the advantage of procrastination. Let it move you to complete all the jobs you want to get done. You will still have time to complete the big job you have been avoiding.
Procrastination has a bad reputation, but the truth is that it can help you accomplish a great deal. Use procrastination to your advantage. Use it to delay saying yes to everything. This way you will give yourself time to think, and you won’t get overbooked. It will also help you get things done because, when you are procrastinating, you aren’t just sitting around. You are doing any task to avoid doing what you need to be doing. That is fine, and actually you will get twice as much done. So stop beating yourself up and enjoy perfecting the art of procrastination.