Procrastinating Well

I once wrote a handout for my university Writing Center entitled “How to Procrastinate Well.” It was inspired by a thought:

What if we changed the way we viewed procrastination? What if we chose to stop seeing it as a fatal flaw and instead learned to embrace it and use it well?

You see, I am a master procrastinator. In college, I would wait until the last possible moment to begin writing my papers. By my senior year of college, I could pump out a 15-page research paper, complete with accurately cited sources in as little as three hours.

The Type-A personalities reading this might cringe at that, wondering why I would tackle such a task all at once, when I could divide it into tasks and carefully scheduled between my weekly homework assignments. This may be true; however, my hyper-organized friends, my mind does not work that way – and I propose that many minds do not work that way.

I did not procrastinate because I am lazy, or careless, or cavalier. I procrastinated because it takes me a long time to think about things. Had I started on my papers any earlier, I would feel half-baked and uncertain about what I had to say.

Perhaps the bad reputation given to procrastination is unfair. The real problem is not waiting until the need is urgent; the real problem is not being prepared when the time comes.

Therein lies the art of procrastinating well. If you can be prepared, then by all means –procrastinate!

For me, this preparation comes in the form of notes jotted here and there, thoughts (complete or incomplete) saved in my phone, or articles I’ve bookmarked to read later.

In college, I may not have had a neatly typed outline or note cards with quotes and paraphrases, but I had everything I needed to write a fantastic paper, and I knew just where to find it all. I just needed to wait until I processed all of the information and knew what I wanted to say, and viola! an essay/research paper/thesis I could be proud of.

There is something to be said about waiting until you are good and ready.

In fact, perhaps a little procrastination would do all of us some good. Far too few of us wait to speak until we know what we want to say. Many of us work under the pressure of everything we have to do, rather than allowing our amazing creative minds the space they need to do what they do best.


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