Use Procrastination To Your Advantage

Procrastination is hardly the devil — heck, it’s barely a fourth-level imp. But it can strike at the most inopportune of times and when it does, rather than wallow in your lack of productivity, turn your idleness into future potential.

Image: Cristiano Betta / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

If anyone knows about getting things done in the face of distractions — like social media — it’s Facebook product designer Tanner Christensen. Over at Inc., Christensen highlights research from 2009 that suggests procrastination is what you make of it.

Sure, if you disengage and let your mind wander, it’s going to hamper your productivity. On the other hand, if you identify these periods and prepare for them, you can use them as opportunities to think without distraction or even better, an excuse (of sorts) to arm yourself for future work:

Preparation. Gathering supplies, resources, and inspiration before procrastinating. Where longer preparation periods give a greater incubation effect.
Incubation. Once everything has been prepared for you to start working, take a cognitive break in the form of sleep, meditation, a walk, or some other task that requires little-to-no mental strain. Having all of the prepared items still in mind, paired with no competing mental stimulus, will allow your brain to do what it does best and connect the dots almost entirely unconsciously.

It’s a bit like jumping in the shower or going for a walk when the eyes glaze over, except you get yourself ready to do work once the procrastination ends. So next time you feel like doing nothing at all, do your best to pre-empt the moment when you do want to work.

Why You’re Procrastinating All Wrong (and How to Do It Better) [Inc.]

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