the benefits of procrastination
Updated: Jan 26
Benjamin Franklin once said:
Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Are these words of wisdom? Or just an insult to the universe? I say, the latter. With the recent rains in California, my Ring doorbell lost its WIFI connection. I tried resetting it, but that didn't work. It seemed to be an electrical issue. I could have dug right in, pulled the unit from the wall, replaced wires, reinstalled the app--try, try again, etc. However, I held back. Because I'm lazy? No. Because I know something Ben Franklin didn't. Put off what you can do today, because the universe may fix it tomorrow. That's right.
Another example: my "check engine" light went on in my car. My first impulse was to ignore, let it fix itself. Give the universe a shot. But I also didn't want to be stranded on the freeway because of car failure. I took the car in. They told me my gas cap was loose. So basically, the next time I got gas for the car--it would have fixed itself. I insulted the universe because of fear. Look what the universe has given us. Well, the universe itself, mostly. But it also gives us the luxury of putting menial tasks off before we waste our precious time with things the universe is poised to fix for us.
Unlike God and other assumed ideologies, we can see the universe with our own eyes. Why not put faith in something we can witness for ourselves instead of theoretical time management hyperbole?
While the universe is helpful fixing mundane glitches, there are still tasks at work that need to be completed to ensure continued employment. Certainly you can manage some of this this via delegation, but when all else fails, there are certain assignments we just have to handle on our own.
In this case, there are passive procrastinators and active procrastinators.
Passive Procrastinators: These procrastinators just can't seem to make a decision so they delay the inevitable. Don't be wishy-washy. Make a decision. Doesn't have to be immediate, as other articles might suggest, but if you have an assignment you can't foist off on someone else, you've got to get it done yourself. Eventually. Which leads us to the better type of procrastinator....
Active Procrastinators: These procrastinators love to put things off until the last minute for the rush of completing an assignment under pressure--but still meet their deadlines. Within this category there are 3 types:
Cognitive: Forget it, I'm not doing this until I have to get it done.
Affective: Delay everything so that I can have a damn challenge!
Behavioral: I love the satisfaction of completing an assignment, but still won't start it until the last minute.
Now doesn't the "active" procrastinator sound a lot more enticing? Sure, slightly deranged, but oh what a thrill! It takes a real uptight person to finish a task early. Then what? Sit around and pat yourself on the back? At least when you procrastinate and sit around, you've still got a thrilling challenge ahead. Think about completing the task last minute--when nobody thought you could, then laughing, silently to yourself about the doubters and nay-sayers who now wonder how you achieved success. Well, you're not uptight and a better person for it.
So if you're not a procrastinator, here are some tips on becoming one:
Do not create a to-do list. There's nothing worse than a to-do list for people who want to procrastinate. It's as bad as writing down your goals. Keeping to-dos out of sight is a great way to forget you even have to-dos. That certainly helps to reduce stress about the assignment and feelings of guilt. And once reminded of the assignment, you've got very little time left to complete the assignment, and oh what a feeling it is.
Avoid productivity systems like the Ivy Lee Method. With this method, there's a lot of writing things down, checking those things every morning, blah blah blah. This method treats you, as an adult, like a child. We're not children. Don't act like one.
Spit on "Temptation Bundling." This is where you bundle want behaviors with things you should be doing. For example, only watch TV while you're doing something productive. Like what? Knitting? This method suppresses our true desires by incorporating productive activities. That's like putting a tomato on top of your chocolate fudge sundae. The thought makes me queasy. See why I said, spit on it?
Do not Eliminate distractions. I don't know about you, but I thrive on distractions. 20 things have distracted me from writing this article, all well worth it. The article is still completed, and I got to see three new movie trailers on YouTube, got a handful of delicious almonds, lightly salted, and watched a squirrel outside my window for 20 minutes. Experience life while you experience productivity.
We were taught a lot of things when we were kids. We're adults now. We can eat all the candy in sight on Halloween and get a stomach ache because we choose to do so. Likewise, as adults, we can procrastinate all we want and reap the rewards of the last minute fire drill--which is much better than a stomach ache.