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Personal Growth

Can’t Stop Procrastinating? Just Procrastinate Better

So-called structured procrastination could help you be as productive as your go-getter peers.

Procrastination is often unfairly regarded as productivity’s evil twin, writes Donné Torr over at Hootsuite. Sure, procrastinators can be slow and unreliable, but there exists research to suggest not all people who put things off are unproductive. Whether it’s the sort of “research” that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, I’ll leave for you to decide.

You can’t beat your Facebook addiction into submission – so schedule it into your work day, says Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.

Big Think’s Maria Konnikova covered psychologist John Perry, who is notable for proposing a theory of Structured Procrastination:

“Perry proposes the following strategy for the effective procrastinator. Create a list of tasks that you need to accomplish. Order them from most important to least important. Now, procrastinate doing something that is higher on the list by doing something lower on the list, instead of something random that doesn’t appear at all. That way, you’ll be doing something that needs doing while not doing something that’s even more pressing and important, thus satisfying your procrastinating tendencies. As a result, you’re still a procrastinator par excellence, avoiding important deadlines and responsibilities, but in addition, you’ve suddenly become productive as well.”

Perry features prominently in Torr’s article for his ideas on how “effective dawdling” can lead to creativity and innovative solutions. Inspired, Torr suggests tailoring your time-management habits to the needs of your job. I suppose a good example would be for a humble blogger tasked with writing about big ideas to spend his lazy online time visiting sites that promote knowledge. Not that I know anybody who fits that profile…

The key takeaway here? Torr stresses that, in a counterintuitive twist, active and structured procrastinators might very well be just as productive as their go-getter counterparts.

Do I buy it? Eh, not really. Procrastination is, in the words of the great David McRaney, “fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.” If we could condition ourselves to not procrastinate, we’d all likely be happier people. But since we apparently can’t all do that, I suppose the Perry method is a fair Plan B.

Read more at Hootsuite.

Photo credit: Sergey Paranchuk / Shutterstock


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