Procrastination: The Opposite of Productivity
We all have experienced procrastination at some point in our lives. Whether it’s putting off our work assignments till the last minute, delaying important conversations or waiting until the eleventh hour to plan for a major event, we all have been guilty of procrastinating. However, procrastination is not just a bad habit, it is literally the opposite of productivity. It’s the act of delaying tasks, avoiding them, or simply putting them off to a later time. Procrastination is not just a harmless habit, it’s a behavior that can lead to negative consequences, including missed deadlines, inadequate work, and even failure.
The Shame of Procrastination
Procrastination fills us with shame. We tell ourselves that we are lazy, lacking focus, or easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. We curse ourselves for not being able to start or complete the task at hand. All of these negative emotions are understandable since procrastination, for the most part, is time spent not working on things that are important to us.
However, there is a positive side to procrastination. In rare instances, procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In these cases, we should embrace procrastination, even as we push it away the rest of the time.
Why We Procrastinate
We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some of which are better than others. One reason is that we need time to let ideas “ferment” before we are ready to put them into action. In other words, we need time to think, to dream, to weigh ideas in our minds, to follow false leads, and to generally think things through. This is called creative faffing or concepting.
However, don’t let yourself believe that you are “concepting” when you are not sure what you should be doing. Spending an hour staring at the wall because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline for your marketing campaign is wasting time, not concepting. Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we are not sure what to do, it’s easy to get distracted or trick ourselves into doing nothing. The solution is proper planning and scheduling.
Procrastination Can Be Bad
Procrastination can often trick us into thinking that we are being productive when in fact, we are not. We scan our to-do list, skipping over the big, challenging tasks in favor of the short, easy tasks. At the end of the day, we feel productive as we cross off many items from our list. However, the big project we didn’t work on gets put on the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again.
Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves. In many cases, big tasks are not really tasks at all. They are aggregates of smaller tasks. If something is sitting on your list for a long time, try breaking it down into smaller tasks.
Procrastination is a Technical Failure
Procrastination is often a sign of technical failure, not a moral failure. It’s not because we are lazy or bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we have set ourselves. It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastination tendencies and ask ourselves what is it about the task we have set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.
In conclusion, procrastination is the opposite of productivity. It’s not just a bad habit, as it can lead to negative consequences, including missed deadlines, inadequate work, and even failure. However, there is a positive side to procrastination. In rare instances, procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. The solution is proper planning and scheduling, breaking tasks down into smaller tasks, and understanding that procrastination is often a sign of technical failure, not a moral failure.