Procrastination, or putting things off, is often seen as a negative trait for students. Waiting until the last minute to do that revision or burning the candle at both ends to try and complete an essay rarely gives the best results, but procrastination is not always a bad thing, and may actually be good in some circumstances. This is especially true when it comes to creativity, where giving yourself some extra time can actually reap rewards. However, to make your procrastination positive you will need to have a little bit of get-up-and-go to get things started as soon as possible. So how does it work – we’ll show you here…
The important thing is being able to recognise the difference between delaying your start to a project and delaying the completion. In the first instance you are setting yourself up for trouble – unable to know what is required until the last minute and potentially having to end up rushing to finish your task. However, if you can make a start as soon as possible it may then actually be of benefit to relax and give yourself some extra time to think before you finish the job at hand.
The idea is that by getting started you will let your brain assess what needs to be done, write you plan of action and make a few first steps to getting the job done. This may mean writing notes for a first draft of an essay or starting your research. However, by then easing off the job and giving yourself some thinking time you allow your brain time to mull things over, incubate your thoughts and come up with some new ideas.
Anyone who has ever taken time to consider a problem will know how this works as your brain will continue to think things through while you are resting or doing something else. It is this thinking time that can allow inspiration to seep in. Great for creativity, procrastination can still be a problem for productivity, so make sure not to put things off too long.
However, rather than rushing to finish your essay (for example), why not take a little longer and allow yourself time to draft and improve your writing. Putting off starting the job is different to giving yourself more time to improve and finalise what you are doing.
This technique doesn’t just work for students but can also translate over to business, where there is a difference between coming up with an original idea and improving on an existing one. You may think that those who come up with original ideas are the ones who succeed, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact statistics show that 47% of those businesses who come up with a brand new idea fail, compared to just 8% of those who improve and develop an existing idea.
It is a bit like the difference between MySpace and Facebook. Facebook may not have been first to the party, but by taking their cue from others and improving on an existing formula they surpassed the competition.
In short, if you can get started sooner then you give yourself more time to make those alterations and amendments later. Putting off finishing the work allows you the chance to redraft and improve on what you have done. When it comes to procrastination it is all about what you put off until later – don’t put off starting, but you might want to allow yourself a little more time before you decide you are finished.