Procrastination tends to get a bad rap. From pushing off preparing for a presentation to delaying getting ready for work in the morning, procrastination often gets associated with a lack of productivity. Procrastinators can be seen as inefficient or downright lazy.
However, there’s a way you can use strategic procrastination to actually help you accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.
But be warned: Mindful procrastination isn’t for everyone.
Let’s dive in deeper to learn if procrastinating mindfully is a skill you can use to your advantage.
How Mindful Procrastination Works
The right kind of procrastination can have its benefits. Knowing an important deadline is looming may give you a boost of energy, help you work faster, or get into a flow state.
But this method only works once you’ve mastered a skill or have become highly proficient with the work involved.
For example, if you want to complete a task by the end of the day, you could either:
- Give yourself eight full hours to complete it, or
- Complete it in less time
Depending on how you work, giving yourself an EOD deadline could actually decrease your productivity. This is because extended durations of procrastination may stress you out and create more discomfort than necessary. A shorter deadline may make you more focused and less stressed.
However, if you’re well-versed in the work and highly proficient, using short bursts of procrastination can give you the energy boosts needed to help you find motivation.
5 Ways to Mindfully Procrastinate
1. Stop Negative Self-Talk
First things first, procrastination doesn’t have to be “bad.” But if you get into the habit of thinking it is and support that view with negative self-talk, you’ll believe it to be so.
Instead, try to remind yourself that you’re only human and taking a few breaks here and there can restore your motivation.
2. Procrastinate with Awareness
If you have a strong understanding of the project’s requirements and all its moving parts, you’ll be better equipped to be strategic with your timeline.
Set a timer and go for a walk to clear your head or take a short break to do some stretches or light yoga. Giving yourself some space from the project can inspire creative thought and a new perspective.
3. Start when You’re Ready
Knowing when you’re feeling inspired and ready to work is half the battle. If you can truly hone in on this, you’ll be able to work efficiently, mindfully, and with focus.
There’s no need to force something that isn’t coming naturally. Instead, you’re better off starting the task at a time that’s right for you.
4. Be Efficient with Your Time Management
Managing your time around deadlines can make you more efficient.
Working longer on something isn’t necessarily the answer. Instead, set your start line to have just enough time to complete the task.
If you can properly manage and utilize your time, a little bit of pressure can go a long way.
5. Communicate the Deadline with Your Team
If you’re changing the start line or deadline of a project, be sure to tell anyone else who’s involved. Working well with others requires open communication and mutual respect for everyone’s time.
Potential Downsides to Strategic Procrastination
It’s no surprise waiting until the last minute can increase stress — especially when you’re up against a deadline.
That’s why you want to start your work strategically. Not too early, not too late.
If you can learn how to manage your stress levels, these situations will be less likely to feel overwhelming.
Decline in Quality
Not everyone does well under pressure. If this sounds like you, giving yourself an unrealistic deadline could cause the quality of your work to suffer — especially if you don’t have enough time to review, revise, and improve your work.
No Cushion or Wiggle Room
Mindfully procrastinating can eliminate a much-needed buffer on projects. But it can also put you under excessive pressure and increase anxiety. These aren’t always optimal conditions to produce your best work.
The Bottom Line
There’s a difference between avoiding a project out of fear or inadequacy and using mindful procrastination to your advantage. If you have confidence in your skillset and understand the work required, strategic procrastination can be just the trick you need to accomplish your tasks.
If you can view mindful procrastination as a place to recharge your energy, it can increase your efficiency and focus.
Tell us about a time in the comments below that you mindfully procrastinated, and it made you complete your work in a shorter than expected time!