Is productive procrastination ever good for you?

That title’s a real oxymoron, isn’t it? Productive procrastination. What does that even mean? How can you possibly be productive while you procrastinate?

Well, if you’re all caught up, you’ll know from one of my recent blog posts that not all procrastination is inherently bad. In fact, sometimes procrastinating can actually be quite good for you. We shouldn’t always strive to be productive for 100% of our time. There are days when you just need to chill out and take it easy.

Productive procrastination is one of those days. While generic procrastinating might be putting something off in favour of doing something you might prefer, the preferred activity won’t usually get you anywhere – such as watching a movie when you really should be cleaning the house.

Productive procrastination, on the other hand, would mean cleaning the house, an inherently productive task, when you should be working on your college assignment, or keeping fit, or doing literally anything else. You should be doing something else, but you’re choosing to put that off and be productive in a different way. Is this good for us?

Pros and cons

Let’s start with the obvious: procrastination, whether it’s productive or not, is often a bad thing. This isn’t because you’re being less busy; quite the opposite. Procrastinating is bad because there are clear goals that you need to accomplish, for whatever reason, and these aren’t getting done because you either can’t be bothered or don’t want to.

This could have an adverse effect on your life in so many ways, big or small, but let’s be dramatic for a second. Let’s imagine that you need to get an essay submitted by 12 noon in two weeks. If you start researching and writing a little every day, leaving a couple days for editing, you’re going to be so much less stressed than if you’d put it off until the night before (or even worse, the day of the deadline).

I wouldn’t say that productive procrastination is bad, though, as long as you use it to your advantage. Let’s say you’re writing this essay, but you feel a bit distracted. The house needs tidying, it’s been a tip for a while, and you’re now feeling all inspired to do it. Your pomodoro timer is up and you’ve grown a new tree in the Forest app, so you’re ready for a break.

It’s time to productively procrastinate. Get those cleaning tools ready and spend an hour tidying up. Clean to your heart’s content; it’s even better if whatever you’re doing, like cleaning, is active, because it’ll get you out of the study zone and get rid of any aches and pains you might have gathered over the past twenty five minutes sat down. Better still if you actually enjoy what you’re doing.

If you can figure out a way to productively procrastinate – and ensure it doesn’t turn into straight up procrastination – then I think you may have won at life.

What do you do to procrastinate productively?

While you’re here, you might also like…

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