The Art of Productive Procrastination
Productive procrastination. Two words we don’t often see together but trust us, it’s a real thing! As much as we would like to wax lyrical about days spent with steely focus, multitasking to-do lists, household chores, children and our many other commitments, we are also realists, and we know that procrastination is an inevitable - if at times slightly unwelcome - part of life. Especially when literally anything seems more appealing than that overflowing email inbox.
So, if you’ve found yourself putting off that oversized pile of laundry for at least a week and you know the ins and outs of Brad and Angelina’s divorce settlement better than you know what you’re saying in that presentation you’ve got to give next week, here are our top tips on how to put that procrastination time to better use.
1. Time Yourself
If your mind is floating and you’re itching to scroll your phone, give yourself permission to take twenty minutes off. Set an alarm so there’s no chance of persuading yourself you have only had ten minutes, when in fact it’s been thirty-eight.
2. Write Lists
Use your procrastination time to write down what you want to achieve the following day and by the end of the week. Having detailed goals can be majorly helpful when trying to keep focused. Make daily goals for the whole week and delight in that smug glow as you tick them off one by one.
3. Regain some mental clarity
If you’re really struggling to get into the work zone, get up, have a stretch, go outside. Increased movement = more blood flow to the brain. This might not be 100% scientifically accurate, but getting away from your desk and moving your limbs is a tried-and-true way of shaking some of that fuzz out of your head.
"You might find that by the time a couple of easier tasks are completed, you’ve gained enough momentum to move onto the bigger, more daunting ones"
4. Download a white noise app
Since phones are the number one source of procrastination for many, you may as well put it to good use. Many people find white noise, or other ambient sounds, really helpful for zoning in and staying focused. The Noisli app is great for this, offering sounds known to boost productivity from fire, to streams, to trains. You can even layer your chosen sounds and the volume of each, so you can listen to, say, a roaring campfire with a hint of falling leaves.
5. Tackle some of your easier tasks
Not strictly procrastination if you’re still working, but getting some of your easier tasks done first is our smuggest way to productively procrastinate. So if writing that presentation is much too much for right now, move onto a smaller, more manageable task. You might find that by the time a couple of easier tasks are completed, you’ve gained enough momentum to move onto the bigger, more daunting ones.
6. Break it up
Did you promise yourself that you would have all those spreadsheets finished by the end of the day, but now you’re staring at Excel with nothing short of horror? Try breaking the task up into smaller ones. Do it in chunks and take a break between each one to do something less taxing. Find an easy way to tackle a hard job and it will be done quicker than you reach for your phone.
Above all, be honest with yourself. You know the difference between taking a break that will recharge your brain juices and spending the entire day putting something off because you don’t know where to start.