If you love personal development as much as I do, I am sure you are constantly reading about different ways to overcome procrastination. We are constantly seeking on tops to stop procrastinating so we can be productive. Procrastination is termed as the enemy of productivity, which is true, but are there times when procrastination can be a good thing?
Most schools of thoughts on productivity insist of getting things done, now! Even Mel Robbins developed a whole movement about the 5 second rule which says, you should do something as soon as you think about it, since after 5 seconds are over, you probably will be thinking about something else. I agree with her because this makes you an actionable person, and action is great for productivity.
However, from a different perspective, are there times when procrastination can be a good thing? Should we maybe procrastinate sometimes? I like this argument that I read in Adam Grant’s Originals.
Procrastination is good for creativity
In his book Originals, Adam Grant argues that procrastination is good for creativity.
“Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity” –Adam Grant
History shows that Leonardo da Vinci painted Monalisa on and off from 1503 to 1519. This displays that procrastination can be good for creative people since it allows the ideas to ‘cook’ in their mind before they are put on paper. The more something is at the back of your mind as you are doing something else, the more you will come up with different approaches on how to do it. It is used as a form of incubation to nurture creative ideas into maturity.
Here is a Ted Talk of Adam Grant discussing this;
As much as I advocate for doing things early enough in an effort to reduce the anxiety that comes with facing deadlines, sometimes I am the queen of completing tasks last minute. Note that this does not mean not looking at the task at all until it is due in a few hours, but it involves opening a task, becoming familiar with it, then leaving it to do something else. You see in such a situation, the task is somewhere in the back of your mind and whether you are cooking, playing videogames, working out, driving, or hanging out with friends and family, you are thinking about it somewhere in your subconscious. As a result, when you finally start working on the task, you have better ideas on how to get it done.
Deadlines can be your friend
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make when they go by” – Douglas Adams.
Encouraging procrastination is not a ploy to make you a lazy bum that skips deadlines. It’s also not intended to make you sweat last minute rushing against deadlines you had all the time to work on either. Instead, it’s a different school of thought and approach meant to show you that there can be some benefit to procrastination, more so in creativity.
Have you ever been asked to write and present a speech? Sometimes back when I was taking my masters, I was requested to write a speech to present to a group of students and the faculty. Of course the first speech I wrote, and the one I finally presented were totally different speeches, and the last one was much better, so good that a professor in the communications department commended me. Why was this so? I started on the speech, then kept it at the back of my mind for two weeks before I was to present it. This meant that I had time to chew it over, and I kept coming up with better ideas and replacing old ones. Even a few hours before the speech I was still scribbling some items on the speech and erasing others.
Martin Luther King’s Junior Speech
In Originals, read that the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Junior was not even part of his initial speech. He had written a wonderful speech initially. However, he kept making corrections and when someone from in audience yelled “tell them about the dream Martin!’’ he made a whole new speech that had not been planned for. Delay, and therefore procrastination, sometimes is a good thing. Some people had ideas about a business but it took time before acting on the idea. When they launched their ideas later, they were better ideas than their initial ideas.
Conclusively, procrastination may make you less productive, but it makes you produce well-marinated ideas. As you procrastinate, you churn ideas in your mind and possibly improve on them before you put them into action. If you are a creative, procrastination can be a good thing!