Full disclosure: This article would have been written a lot sooner but I put it off until the last minute. With just a short while before I wanted to get this piece live, I’m finally writing it. Am I worried? Not too much, especially given the fact that there are benefits to procrastinating.
Researchers have broken down procrastination into two types. The passive procrastinator is someone who simply can’t finish any task on time for a variety of reasons. The active procrastinator is someone who works best under pressure, just like James Bond.
Here are a few potential benefits of procrastinating:
You Can Take Care of Little Things
When you’re putting off a big task, you can end up taking care of a lot of little things while you wait. This doesn’t mean catching up on your binge Netflix viewing. Instead, a procrastinator could get some shopping done or organize a closet. There are plenty of items on a to-do list that need done, right?
You Get a Power Boost
Waiting until the last minute to study for an exam or finish a project can cause anxiety. That is not always a bad thing. That fear actually releases adrenaline and that is a mighty power boost. It might also reduce the amount of pain you feel around your procrastination.
You Have Sharper Focus
As the clock ticks down to the final moments of a deadline, you could end up having sharper focus on the task before you. That rush to complete means we cut off all distractions. Without social media interruptions or ringing phones, we can really get a lot of quality work done.
You Have Time to Pull Your Thoughts Together
If you dive into a project the moment it is handed over to you, then there might not be a lot of consideration. By putting it off, you could use that time for more research or just some good old fashioned thinking. The result could be a project that is more fully realized. I’m definitely going with that excuse.
However, while there might be a few pros to putting your work off, there are definitely some cons, as well:
Your Brain Works Against You
Just as you could derive a benefit from an adrenaline boost, that same fear can work against you. The moment you put off a task, you’re telling your brain this is something to be avoided. That sets up impulses that can actually make you fear the task. As the deadline gets closer, those brain labels will kick up stress hormones that can increase blood pressure, cause insomnia and mess with your stomach.
You Lose Time to Make It Right
Waiting for the last minute means you’re closing down your margin for error. There simply might not be enough time to rewrite the piece or read everything you need for that test. This could result in a sense of being a failure. You could use the excuse that you didn’t have enough time, but that would be a lie, right?
You Can’t Account for the Unknown
You might work great under pressure and that’s why you procrastinate. However, the universe has a way of throwing curveballs you can’t account for. Just as you set aside the last two hours to meet the deadline, you get a call you can’t avoid or the cat gets sick or the power goes out. Then what happens? Well, it’s pretty much game over at that point because you’ll miss the deadline. That’s not a good thing.
Perhaps there is a balance to being a procrastinator. Put off an assignment in order to give you time to think it through. Just don’t wait until the very last minute. You can decide which is the best approach to handle your procrastination tendencies. No rush.
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