procrastination

The Justification for Procrastination: Avoidance Can be a Good Thing

Who enjoys evading responsibilities? I know I do! When I’m faced with an assignment or project, I like to not do that thing, especially when I feel a hint of urgency. When most normal people are tasked with a time-sensitive project, they knock it out as soon as possible so it’s off their plate and not hanging over their head. But not I. I like to prolong my suffering and totally avoid what needs to be done until the very last minute. 

I’ll even think of other stuff to do just to avoid doing the thing I should be doing, and then I’ll mentally justify the avoidance task to make it seem like a priority. I have an assignment due tomorrow on which I haven’t even started, but first, let me arrange those folders on my desktop in reverse alphabetical order, because that’s definitely a thing that needs to be done immediately.

Procrastination is something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. It’s a never-ending cycle that I seem to fall into inadvertently but too naturally. Like Michael Scott, I’m always asking myself, “Why are you the way that you are?”.

Honestly, I don’t know why I’m such a glutton for personal punishment. I like to think I work best under pressure. I shoot my best shot with the clock running down. Deadline? Don’t you mean challenge? Really though, I don’t do it on purpose, it just….happens.

Ironically, it was an act of procrastination that gave me the needed inspiration to write this piece.

Productive Procrastination

There I sat. Silently staring at my laptop, anxiously watching the blinking cursor on a formidable empty, white screen. I was literally straining for words, but to no avail. Nothing was coming out. My mind was as blank as the screen in front of me. 

After what felt like hours of searching the deepest chasms of my soul (15 minutes), I exhaled and took a much-needed break. In an act of defiance, I picked up my phone and began scrolling through social media, as I do. I ran across a 20 minute video of a TED talk about procrastination. And of course I watched it. It’s not like I had anything better to do. 

The speaker made some good points. The subject matter was incredibly relatable, and it peaked my curiosity. When the video concluded, I sat there in reflection. Then I realized, I just procrastinated by watching a video about procrastination. 

Alas, there it was. Elusive inspiration. Grease for the rusty, cobwebbed gears in my brain. I sputtered back to life, rushed to my laptop and began feverishly typing the masterpiece you’re now reading. 

So I ask, why is procrastination considered such a bad thing? Far too often, we procrastinators are shamed. We’re made to feel like slackers just because we prefer to get started a little later. We’re called inconsiderate and lazy. In fact, we are the opposite of lazy, we’re doing double the work by creating stuff to do in order to avoid the task at hand.

Sure, it may take us a little while to get up and running, but we make it to the finish line. Eventually. 

Stop making us feel bad just because we have unique work habits. We don’t conform. We’re not “normal”, and that’s how we like it. The great Maya Angelou once said, “If you’re trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”.

We may struggle in structured environments, but give us the freedom to do things our own way, at our own pace and we excel, often producing impressive work. There’s a fine line between sabotage and success, and we tiptoe this tightrope with style and grace.

Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, procrastination is not a flaw or an inability to manage time. Procrastination is a form of stress relief. It’s a way to regulate emotions such as anxiety, self-doubt, or frustration. 

For a chronic procrastinator, that big project due this week is like a monster rearing its ugly head in the corner. If we ignore the monster it goes away. Out of sight, out of mind. We know its an avoidance tactic, and probably a bad idea, but we do it anyway.

Is there such a thing as productive procrastination? Take my story, for example. Had I tried to push through my writer’s block instead of procrastinating, this article would not exist, and the world would be deprived of this subjective piece of content.

In all seriousness, I can recall countless instances in which procrastination was the main catalyst for my source material. So, its true. Procrastination can be productive, at least in my experience anyway.

Tips for Avoiding Procrastination

Just like anything in life, too much of anything is bad. It’s no secret that procrastination can be a problem. Even though I put the pro in procrastination, I try to at least minimize it if possible. Here are a few things I do to help avoid procrastination when I really need to buckle down, and these could help you too:

  • Removing distractions from your work environment is key. Turn your phone off, or remove it from the room entirely.
  • Close your email.
  • Keep your desk or work-space neat and organized
  • Use incentives. Reward yourself after completing a task. This is my fav.

Although I try to avoid over-procrastination, I’m no quitter. These days, I just go with it. I mean, I’m well into my 30’s, and pretty much set in my ways. Why fight it? For me, procrastination is a part of my creative process and helps me spawn some of my best ideas. Call me an enabler if you must, but I fully support procrastination.

My fellow procrastinators, I stand with you in solidarity. Feel not ashamed for delaying your duties. We are not unproductive slackers. We can do just as much as those perfectly punctual non-procrastinators. Procrastinators have made an impact throughout history. Famous members of Procrastination Nation include Mozart, Leonard da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Bill Clinton.

So you see, procrastinators can change the world. We’re not bad people just because we put stuff off. Procrastinators have the ability to do great things, and we will absolutely do these great things. Tomorrow.

Published by Hot Mess Press