Procrastination happens. If you use it as a chance to fuel up on inspiration and creativity, it's not wasted time. So rather than pretend you're not procrastinating, own it and put the time to use. Step outside, shake things up, explore, experiment, and fill your mind with new thoughts. This sort of exploration is essential to staying fresh, motivated, and inspired. Here are eight ways to flip your wasted productivity into an invaluable reset.

1. Listen on social media

Hop onto Instagram, Snap, or Facebook and trawl some hashtags for things you never normally look for. Use it as a way to fuel up on inspiration. If you really feel like mixing it up, ask a colleague for a random suggestion and follow it down the rabbit hole.

2. Walk in your consumers' shoes

Get inside your consumers' minds and shoes and walk to the shops. Pretend you are seeing things through their eyes -- what do you notice? What are you drawn to? What repels you? Have a conversation with the assistant as if you were coming into the category fresh. Even if your company doesn't sell a consumer-facing product, this exercise can still unearth insight.

3. Speak to a child

Take a break and ask a child you know what he or she thinks about your work problem. Break it down into its simplest terms, and relay the principles of what you're trying to solve. Be prepared to be blown away by some miniature genius.

4. Grab a coffee with a teammate you don't know

Take the procrastination time as a chance to bond with an office mate, preferably one you don't normally work with or know very well. Collaboration is the key to both a productive and a happy working environment. And investing in your working relationships is never time wasted.

5. Improve your office

Look around your space. What can you do to make it better, instantly? You might also come up with bigger initiatives that will require a bit more preparation and planning, but will help transform your space in the future. Take note of these, and commit to making at least a small improvement today.

6. Study another category

Rather than worry myopically about what the competition is up to, dive into a new category and new world, completely unrelated to your own. It might be ice cream, limousines, rock climbing gear, or personal travel. Whatever it is, be prepared to find inspiration in an unusual place. There are very few new-to-the-world ideas, but there are lots of powerful ideas that are just new to a particular category.

7. Read something different

Head to a corner store and pick up a magazine you've never read before. You're likely to find a nugget of inspiration where you least expect it, and will definitely learn something new. Not to mention, the nostalgia of flipping through a brand new magazine for the first time will breathe new energy into your workday.

8. Ask your childhood hero

Think back to whom you were the most besotted by when you were young. Conjure up the person's brilliance and contemplate what that person would do if he or she were staring at your to-do list. You might come up with a great idea to solve your problem, or a great way to spend the afternoon.

Published on: Oct 24, 2017