Procrastinating on Purpose

Procrastination is a real thing. I’m a culprit, one of my roommates is an extreme culprit, and so are you. Nevertheless, we figure out a way to get things done before that 11:59 pm deadline (most of the time anyway).

That process works perfectly well until you want to do something more than what you’re assigned to do. Something like blogging every day or starting a business and what tends to happen (to me at least) is that I will not change my workflow, but instead end up with a project on the back burner that doesn’t seem to be making any progress.

This is where Parkinson’s Law comes in.

Parkinson’s Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

What happens when people procrastinate is that they are given a certain amount of time to complete a task, and they spend that whole time doing it. And since there’s no way a 4-page paper takes two weeks to plan and write, we resort to staring at the wall, playing phone games or slamming our heads against our desk.

My objective with purposeful procrastination is to replace that time wasted staring at the wall and replace it with that something more.

But Nick, how in the world am I supposed to do that?!

I am glad you asked Nick!

I’ll walk you through how I’m doing it today, here’s my thought process:

So, I know I have to do some Calc homework tonight and it’s going to take about two hours; the same goes for French. After rounding up for a buffer, I know I’m going to have to put in about 5 hours for homework. And if I want to be done by 11 pm to read or hang or whatever, then I’m gonna need to start at 6 pm.

Essentially what I’m doing here is shortening my deadline. This also works for the morning if you’re a self-disciplined procrastinator.

So when it hits 6 pm I’ll set a timer for two hours, do Calc and done or not, I’ll switch to French and two hours later, I’ll finish whatever I’m not done with during the buffer time.

Moving my free time to before my obligations not only puts an end to the hours of staring at the wall but it effectively puts a deadline on the things you want to accomplish and gives you designated time to do it.

While this won’t work for everyone’s situation and you’ll probably screw yourself over more than once, it’s worked incredibly well for me.

Now, excuse me, I have to do Calculus.