Productive Procrastination – turning inactivity into activity
Procrastination. noun. The action of delaying or postponing something.
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s an assignment due tomorrow, a big exam next week, chores to do at home, bills to pay, people to call, etc. – we all, at some point in our lives, have procrastinated.
For students especially, the only thing standing in the way of a perfect 7 on that assignment or exam is usually those murky feelings of laziness and boredom, where you just cannot bring yourself to write a 1000-word essay. Procrastination is success’s biggest enemy.
But, did you know that procrastination can be beneficial? Let me explain!
Our brains are like machines; you press go and the cogs can spin all day long! But, like a machine’s batteries, our energy won’t go forever. We get exhausted and short-circuit after a long day of constant stimulation. We don’t expect machines to work when their batteries are empty, so we can’t force ourselves to write an essay after a long day of work and study! That’s why brains need rest.
Sometimes, our brains choose the worst time to die on us. Thus, procrastination was born! But, that doesn’t mean you can stop being productive. Avoiding one task by completing another easier, smaller, related task can really help us get stuff done, while also giving our brains a much-needed break.
For example, let’s say you’re a Psychology student with a lab report about anxiety due tomorrow, which you haven’t started, and you’re really struggling to stay focussed. Instead of giving up, accepting your fate and turning to Netflix, try reading a few journal articles on anxiety, or listen to some Ted Talks about people’s personal experiences with anxiety. That way, you can give your brain a break, but still keep it active and stimulated by doing something easier and less daunting! As well as this, coming back to the challenge at hand with a refreshed brain may allow you to view the task in a different light! And who knows, those journal articles and ted talks may give you new inspiration to write about!
This is more common than you think. Actors do it all the time; when they’re tired of rehearsing lines or auditioning for roles, they will allow themselves a productive break by sitting down and watching a movie. That way, they’re giving their brains a break, but keeping it active by watching and learning from other professional actors, all at the same time!
Chefs read cookbooks, musicians go to concerts, and writers read books – gaining that new inspiration from other tasks can give us enough motivation to help tackle our biggest challenges, while also learning something new!
This can work for students too. If you’re sick of studying, go clean your room, wash your pet, or listen to an interesting podcast! Your procrastination isn’t productive until your present self is hating you, but your future self is thanking you! Perfect grades can seem like the most important priority in our world right now, but we have to remember to take care of ourselves too.
The next time you feel like doing literally anything else than studying, try to turn your procrastination into something productive!
By Ami Goeree