Saturday, December 17, 2011

3 Ways to Make the Most Out of Procrastinating

In an ideal world, we'd do everything on time every time and still have time left over to eat, sleep, travel, and play.
In the real world, we simply procrastinate…
We know we shouldn't put things off but we do it anyway. The next time you identify a good project to "do later" be sure to apply these 3 tips. They'll save you from those feelings of guilt, inefficiency, and dread that plague even the most seasoned procrastinator.
Tip 1: Enjoy It
Don't spend valuable procrastination time feeling guilty about what you're not doing. Enjoy yourself. When it comes down to the wire and you're sweating bullets to meet a deadline, you'll have lots of beautiful memories to make it all worth it.
  • If you're genuinely a worry wart, create a plan for completing the task so you can relax about not getting to it right away.
  • Consider doing something semi-productive like cleaning, getting organized, re-connecting with old acquaintances, eating, learning a new dance, practicing your Latin, or even completing other neglected tasks.
  • Make a list of things that you did while procrastinating. You'll need this list to be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

Life is short. There's no point putting something off if you're going to feel guilty about it the whole time.

Tip 2: Create an Efficient System of Reminders
It will make you feel like you've at least done something toward completing the task at hand. If you're lucky, doing this will also help you get started on the task sooner rather than later.
  • Step 1: Pick your favorite reminders (a good combo is using the alarm or calendar feature on your phone, the calendar in Microsoft Outlook, and snooze-able electronic sticky notes).
  • Step 2: Stagger the reminders. If something is due on Friday, set the first alarm to go off seven days in advance. Set the second reminder to go off five days in advance. Set the third one to go off three days in advance.
  • Step 3: Snooze all the reminders as necessary (or until you start to feel like a bum for snoozing three different reminders). Then get started on the task.
  • Step 4: Continue using this system consistently until you become desensitized to all your reminders.
  • Step 5: Go back to step 1 and choose a new combination of reminders.
In other words, plan your procrastination in advance. Yes, I just used "plan" and "procrastination" in the same sentence. You can do it. I believe in you.
Tip3: Once You Start, Don't Stop!
Do you know when procrastination morphs into a beastly problem? It's when we try to procrastinate twice on the same activity. Don't do it. Once you start a task, complete it. No excuses.
  • Start the task with the end in mind. Decide on your stopping point and do not relent until you achieve it.
  • Play motivating music. I'm too embarrassed to publicly disclose what I consider to be "motivating music" but you know yourself. Play whatever gets adrenaline revving through your veins.
  • When you're done, take pride in your work. If you can't take pride in the outcome of the task, maybe it wasn't even worth the effort to begin with (in which case procrastination was a sign of good judgment on your part).
This third rule is challenging at first but, with practice, it quickly becomes second nature. Once you start, just keep going until the job is done.
Bottom Line
Putting things off should never be a half-butted affair. If you're going to procrastinate, go all out and use these three tips to excel at it.


  1. The first one is especially important I think. If you're doing something, make the most of it.

  2. I am the biggest procrastinator and so, these are extremely useful for me!

    Well, I just procrastinated doing two papers until the day before it was due. I did two of the three tips just fine. I certainly enjoyed the time spent doing other stuff other than work. Plus, it was the holidays so all the more to put work aside.

    And once I got started, I didn't stop. Simply because there was no time left for me not to do it. So it was work, work, work right to the end and I was quite happy with the outcome.

    I really need to work on tip #2 though. The main reason why my work is left to the really last minute is because I often just forget about it when I'm having fun, and when I remember to do it, I just put it aside. So maybe I should try giving myself constant reminders though I'm not sure it will help as I would be enjoying my valuable procrastination time so very much. Haha.

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