Procrastination is bad . . . right?

August 21, 2009 § 1 Comment

Procrastination Flowchart

Procrastination Flowchart

Do you even need to ask? Legions of parents, school counselors, bosses, and other authority figures have driven this home ad nauseum over the years, haven’t they? Don’t procrastinate, do your work, schedule your time, set priorities, stick to a schedule, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Just read this article on psychologytoday.com. Clearly procrastination is bad, leading to everything from alcoholism to obesity to poor health. Procrastination is a learned behavior – a behavior that requires therapy to overcome. Of course, that’s pretty much what I’d expect a school counselor or a pop psychologist to say.

So, as I’m sure you’ve already deduced from my combative tone, I think this is not only wrong – it’s completely wrong.

Why do we procrastinate? We’re told it’s because we avoid uncomfortable tasks, or because of an inability to make a decision, or even because we enjoy the risk, much like those addicted to adrenaline or gambling. Does that describe you? It doesn’t describe me.

We’re told that the cure for procrastination is to do less, to schedule better, to “buckle down” and get it done. Has that ever worked for you? It’s never worked for me.

You know what I’ve found that works for me? Do more. Not a little more – a lot more.

Procrastination is something I’ve come to terms with. I am a procrastinator. I say it not as an alcoholic would admit their alcoholism, but with a certain amount of pride. I’ve learned how to put off doing tasks that aren’t important. I’ve learned to prioritize and avoid doing things that I can avoid doing.

So, the problem with reducing the amount of things I have to do, with trying to schedule my time better, with just “buckling-down” is that I will procrastinate regardless. Whether I have 500 tasks that need to be taken care of, or 5 tasks that need to be taken care of, I will put off something. If I have 500 things to do, I can put off 90% of them without causing any significant issues. On the other hand, the less tasks I have on my todo list, the less of them can be avoided without causing real problems.

I’m not the only one – John Perry agrees with me, and hey, if I can find one person on the internet that agrees with my point of view, obviously I must be right.

So turn your weakness into a strength; embrace, love it, be a procrastinator.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a ton of things to do that I’ve been putting off.

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