Although we hate to admit, there are many instances where we have all succumbed to the bad ways of procrastination. There may be this big assignment that needs to be submitted tomorrow, and just then cleaning up your desk becomes alluring, so much that in the final hour of the submission deadline you’d end up having a clean desk and an incomplete assignment. As Robert Benchley puts it “Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment!”
Every procrastinator would agree with me here, that even the most boring task becomes very interesting when there is something more important that you have to do now. If all the procrastinator had to do was throw tennis balls into the sea, there’s no force in the planet that would make him do it. So why fight a losing war, in trying to not procrastinate? It’s better to embrace it and use it to our advantage. As explained by John Perry in his essay, this is where structured procrastination comes in.
What is this Structured Procrastination?
Structured procrastination is a method in which the procrastinator uses his habit of procrastination to complete his tasks. This may sound paradoxical, how could a habit which influences avoidance of tasks, be used to complete tasks. Well, here’s how it works!! Whenever you have that “Very Important Task” in front of you, all your mind can think of is avoiding that task. Here’s the secret to increased productivity which goes against all rules of sanity,“Put that task on hold!!” Listen to your inner voice and procrastinate that job.
Now that you’ve accepted the urge to procrastinate, it’s time to work on a different task that requires your attention. The true power of structured procrastination is that, it understands the extreme challenge of fighting your urge to procrastinate and so helps you go with it, instead of against it. Usually when you feel the need to procrastinate that “Very Important Task”, you tend to dive into time leeches such as YouTube and Facebook, but in structured procrastination you utilize this time to check things off your “To-Do” list.
I know what you’re gonna ask next, “But what happens to that “Very Important Task”? When will you complete that?“
That indeed is an important question. Well this means that we should pick our “VIP Task” carefully! The things that should go on top of our “To-Do” list should be having the following characteristics:
- They should look like having deadlines (but they don’t)
- They should seem to very important (but they really aren’t)
And luckily, you don’t have to look hard to find such a task, they are usually found within your To-Do list. Like say that movie ticket you were supposed to reserve or that book you were supposed to read to write a review for your college newspaper. All they sound important and urgent, the task is not too important and the deadlines are usually flexible.
And once you’ve picked your Top-of-the-list Task, all you’ve to do now is to avoid it and complete the other tasks in your list.
The job of picking a task to place at the top, and trying to trick yourself on the importance of the task, may be difficult for some, but procrastinators are masters of self-deception and it comes quite naturally. Usually this characteristic of self-deception is the one which leads procrastinators into trouble by mixing up what’s important and what’s not. And using this character flaw to offset the bad effects of another, hmm… Truly satifying!!
Now that you’ve learnt how you can use your ability to procrastinate to good use, do you think it will help you complete your task. Share with us in the comments below!!