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Put the PRO In Procrastination: How To Put Structured Procrastination to Action

ProductivityAlicia GraceComment

I admit it: I tend to procrastinate. Recently, I was supposed to write an essay that for some reason, I really did not want to write. So, I procrastinated to avoid writing that essay. And guess what? It was my most productive day in a good long time.

How did that happen? I figured out sometime during the day that it was not that I didn’t work to work, but just that I didn’t feel like writing that essay in particular. With this in mind, I put my energy elsewhere, and the thought of that essay was so deterrent that I managed to focus and be very productive in the task I set out to do that day, which was to revise. (For the record, I bit the bullet and wrote the essay in the end - it turned out to not be that bad, and I got a pretty good grade. Maybe that revising paid off, hmm).

So, what can you do to make your procrastination time productive time? Whilst I would strongly advice against procrastinating all day long like I did, we all know that at least a little bit of procrastinating is inevitable at times. The question is what you do with that time when you’re procrastinating.

When I set out writing this article, I just wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it would help you. But when I did a little research, I found that that there’s a proper term for it: structured procrastination. Like, whoa.

A man named John Kerry put a name to this productivity technique in 1995 (he is now Professor Emeritus at Stanford University).

On his website, John writes this:

I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things.

That’s me to a tee. I had an essay to write and lots of other more immediate work to do, but I decided to do this other task instead. It may not have been the wisest decision if my deadline was that very day, but I absolutely did not regret what I did, and went to bed feeling very accomplished.

The rationale behind this is when you make your Very Important Task #2 and prioritise something over it, then because of how your brain likes to procrastinate, your #2 task seems more appealing than #1.

If you find yourself constantly procrastinating, then you may want to think about trying out structured procrastination to make the most of your time. And if you’re doing this already, then give yourself a pat on your back! Even though you didn’t do what you originally set out to do (aka task #1), you were productive and accomplished something!

Do you use other productivity methods? Let me know in the comments!