Why Structured Procrastination Makes Hard Tasks Easier To Complete

Why Structured Procrastination Makes Hard Tasks Easier To Complete

Structured procrastination is the idea that you shift around your to-do list to tackle easier projects instead of the most important one. It’s an interesting approach to getting things done, and 99U has taken a look at why it often works.

Picture: Fabio Bruna/Flickr

We’ve previously talked about how turning your tasks into bite-sized snacks can help you get through them. The basic idea is that instead of turning to time-wasting activities online when you don’t want to work on your top priority, you reorganise your list to tackle a smaller task on your to-do list. You’re embracing your love of procrastination, but remaining somewhat productive. 99U explains why it works for some people:

[Y]ou are still playing the procrastinator’s game, in which the act of prioritising something at the top saps the impetus to start working on it. So, the mental trick is to regard other tasks as more important in order to make Very Important Task an easier choice.

Rank projects that seem quite significant yet have more flexible deadlines at the top instead like reorganising your workspace or learning a new technique. You’ll probably also find that there are newer Very Important Tasks that have joined your list, making that original one look all the more alluring.

Structured procrastination is about deceiving yourself by making your task list less horrifying to look at. It doesn’t change anything that you have to get done, and it plays to the strengths of procrastinators. If you really struggle with procrastination, it’s one way that makes the most important task on your list a little easier to actually start working on. Head over to 99U for the full explanation.

The Power of Structured Procrastination [99U]


  • Yeah this is what I do.

    Get simple things done and out of the way. Then, you can apply more brain space and time to issues that require it.

    Seems pretty common sense to me.

    • Personally, it seems the opposite of common sense to me – if something requires more brain space and concentration, then it should be done up front first before I’m burnt out on the project, and while I still have motivation.
      If I only concentrate on the small tasks, by the time I get to the big one, I’ll want to procrastinate more since I’ve already done all this work and now there’s this huge ogre waiting for me to tackle.

      But that’s just me, and even as the article notes, this doesn’t necessarily work for everyone 🙂

      I wish you luck on your task procrastination, good sir!

      • For me, the small tasks are generally pretty simple and undemanding. Once done, they’re done. And then I’m warmed up and ready to take on the more important task. Also, if it adds time pressure – all the better. For me, if it’s a work related task it WILL be done, there’s no two ways about it.

        And another benefit of doing it that way is that once you’ve done the big task, then you’re done for the day and feel rewarded because of it.

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