Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. - Victor Kiam
That's pretty heavy, right? Procrastination is literally the murderer of your opportunities.
Putting off to tomorrow what you could get done today has a bad rap, but it's not entirely deserved.
Forget what your grandmother and first grade teacher and university professors told you--procrastination isn't all that terrible. In fact, your stall tactics and inability to function until right before the deadline just might have some surprising benefits:
1. Procrastination breeds efficiency.
Let's face it, if you have one week to complete a three-hour task, you're not going to do it within the first three hours of the week. You'll probably cut it pretty close to the last three hours of the week, in fact.
Stop beating yourself up over it. If you're the type of person who works more efficiently and can be more productive while under the pressure of the ticking clock, work with it. You'll still get your work in on time and will be happier than if you'd spent the week mulling over how weak you are.
2. Putting tasks off reduces unnecessary efforts.
Have you ever turned in a piece of work, only to be told it's no longer needed? If you're jumping on every task as soon as it's assigned, this is bound to happen. In every industry, in every type of job, things can change. Putting tasks off until closer to the deadline might just cut out some unnecessary efforts when these things change.
3. You can be open to more enjoyable things.
Procrastination allows you a greater degree of freedom of choice with your focus. Does it make you happy to miss out on things you really want to do? Of course not.
If procrastinating means you get to enjoy something today and can still complete whatever is required of you before it has to be done--even if it's just hours or minutes before--you've still accomplished what you set out to do. And you've had fun in the meantime.
4. Procrastination can reduce anxiety.
The degree to which putting something off can reduce anxiety is dependent on a) how anxious you are about the task itself, and b) how anxious you are about procrastination.
We often put off things we really, really don't want to do--things that make us uncomfortable, or anxious, or even afraid. If you can take the time to mentally prepare yourself and tackle it when you're ready, you can reduce your overall anxiety about the task.
5. Time can bring greater ideas or other improvements.
While you're procrastinating, your mind is still aware that the task does have to be done, eventually. You might find yourself thinking up ways to improve on whatever it is you have to do as you go about your daily life at home and at work.
University of San Diego professor Frank Partnoy wrote extensively about the benefits of having time to assess issues in his book, Wait. Procrastinating gives your ideas time to percolate; it allows you to sit down and tackle the task after your subconscious has chewed it over. The result just might be a better outcome.
6. It makes you a rebel... sort of.
Only insomuch as you can rebel against modern day norms, though. In ancient Greece and Rome, procrastination was actually respected and highly regarded. It was a sign of affluence and leadership if you had time to sit around and think things over and basically do nothing until you had fully thought out a decision.
If you need that time to sit and stew and think and mull over, don't sweat it. Maybe you're just an old soul. At any rate,
7. Finally accomplishing the task gives an adrenaline rush.
Whoo-wee! And you're done, doesn't that feel great? If you're hooked on the rush you feel when you've finally hammered something out at the very last minute, don't rob yourself of that pleasure.
Procrastination is Underrated
If you're highly skilled in the art of procrastination, don't beat yourself up. Stop listening to the people who will tell you how awful you are for putting things off--at least you're still getting them done! You might even end up turning out higher quality, better thought out work as a result of your "bad" habit.