Is There Any Value In Procrastinating?

Everywhere you look people are blogging about productivity. It’s about getting things done. It’s about being as productive as possible.

When you feel like you have to be productive, it makes you want to procrastinate. And when you procrastinate, you never get anything done… do you?

Is it possible that there’s value in procrastinating? Is it possible that skipping your writing session to wash dishes and watch Seinfeld re-runs could actually help you be a better writer in the end?

Possibilities of Procrastination
When you procrastinate, you put things off until the last minute and then work furiously to get it all done by the deadline. Doing this can be extremely overwhelming and can cause you a lot more stress than necessary.

But maybe that’s not a bad thing. At least when it comes to your writing.

While procrastinating does bring about some negative things, like stress and anxiety, it can also bring about a lot of really good things, such as:

  • Better ideas–When you wait ’til the last minute to start your writing project, suddenly you’ll notice you have all kinds of ideas. Why? Possibly because your brain knows you’re close to failure and so it squeezes out every ounce of creativity it has left and shoots you a winner.
  • Tighter, more concise writing–Since you’re writing at the last minute, you know you’re going to have to pull out the big guns to get the job done. So your brain suddenly starts forming sentences in a concise fashion.
  • Writing on steroids–When I wait ’til the last minute to start my freelance writing projects, I find my writing is on steroids (so to speak). I’m able to write like I’ve never written before in my life. I feel brilliant and witty. I never feel that way when I work on a project a little at at time.
  • Feel clear and focused–Since you have such a short amount of time to complete the writing, your brain seems to almost zero-in on what’s important. Suddenly you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to make this happen, because it just starts happening.
  • Stamina for long writing sessions–If you wait ’til the last minute, you know you’re in for a marathon writing session. But you know you can handle it because you’ve done it before… And you’ll do it again.

Problems with Procrastination
As with everything in life, there’s a flip side to procrastination, and it ain’t pretty.

When you procrastinate, one or more of the following can happen:

  • You’ll cut corners–possibly causing you to miss something really, really important
  • You’ll be stressed out–sweating, pounding heart and oh-my-God-why-did-I-wait-til-the-last-minute-again freak out moments
  • You’ll do a poor job–while it is possible to complete a writing assignment in a short amount of time and do a decent job, chances are you won’t do as good a job as you would if you gave it more time

At the end of the day, you have a choice. You get to choose when you write and when you procrastinate. While there are pros and cons to both, the final decision lies in your hands.

What value do you see in procrastinating? How does it help you get your writing done?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers. She is co-founder of the Better Writing Habits Challenge. For more great writing tips, tools and advice, be sure to follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

2 Replies to “Is There Any Value In Procrastinating?”

  1. I find procrastination to be the best tool in the creative library. Though one could argue that it’s “deadlines” that actually cause procrastination in people who utilize I will skip that.

    I wait till the last possible minute because I know I can get it all done at that time. Finishing it any sooner would be a complete waste and much more often results in a highly inferior project. The rush and boundry enforcement of the deadline draws out all the motivation. I coukd read a weeks worth of homework in the 15 minutes before the teach would walk into class and hammer out any assignments similarly. And they would be pretty much perfect. If I worked on then all week I would get Ds and Cs or not even remember a thing I did.

    If you ARE a REAL procrastinator keep doing it this way it’s the BEST STUFF you will ever make under a deadline and SO PERFECT compared to working slowly throughout the prior time; not to mention all the other stuff you get done unrelated to the project that would not have gotten done!

    It’s an intrinsic part of our (procrastinators) nature! Don’t deny it and embrace it! It takes some going to master it as a skill as well but usually if you “awoke” early you had this down before you were out of 5th grade!

    Just sit back and exam all the great you did waiting till the last minute!

    You might miss an important detail? If you missed it was it really actually important or did this “slip up” actually make for a far superior creative project?

    1. @Niji I’m with you–I have to procrastinate. Waiting ’til the last minute really does, as you said, force me to go into “high productivity” mode and I end up with a much, much better end result than I would have if I worked on it for months and months. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but deadlines and working right up to deadline, while sometimes stressful, is how I am able to deliver amazing work. If procrastination works as a motivator for you, I say do it! It’s when people procrastinate and don’t end up doing the work when it becomes a problem.

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