Productive Procrastination: How To Not Feel Guilty About That Thing You Really Don’t Want To Do

I don’t care who you are, you’ve procrastinated at some point or another in your life. Writing term papers, paying bills, finishing that work project, cleaning your room, doing the dishes, putting away laundry (loathsome task!), working out, finishing that book, cleaning the fish tank, the list goes on. But you’ve done it. You’ve gotten dangerously close to the deadline, and every time you do it, you swear you’ll never do it again. And guess what? You do. Every. Single. Time.

Most times, procrastination is utterly unproductive: Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, television, sleeping, meandering about. These things get you nowhere. I myself am a master procrastinator. It’s like I can’t do the task until the very last possible second, so I wait.

I used to sit around and derp on the computer for hours on end, refreshing my Facebook newsfeed, watching mindless YouTube videos. And then I moved back home after college, where I felt lazy for doing those things, because there was so much else to be done.

I had just started graduate school in the fall of 2012, after living back home for about three months (the. worst). I only worked three days a week and went to school two nights a week. The other time was supposed to be allotted for “homework” and “reading” and “writing papers.” Ha. Those things got done the night before, like always. But I found that I couldn’t just sit on Facebook all day because nothing was going on on Facebook anymore during the day; we all graduated.

This was when I birthed Productive Procrastination. It goes something like this:

I have a paper due on Wednesday, but it’s only four pages and today is only Monday. I could write it now and get it over with, but what fun is that? I can do it Wednesday morning and have it done in two hours with time to spare for editing. What can I do instead? Well, those dishes aren’t going to do themselves. And that pile of laundry could get washed. And…OH! I could bake the world’s largest batch of cookies and surprise the rents when they get home from work. And then maybe I’ll prepare a super fantastic dinner for everyone, and actually earn my keep around here. Yes, this is a much better use of my time. That paper will get done. They always do.

This happens every time I get an assignment for school. I find numerous other things to do, but they’re always productive in some way. This is how I don’t feel bad about not getting my work done early.

I don’t generally condone behavior like this, but if you’re going to procrastinate on that finance report (and we all know you are), you might as well make that procrastination useful. Here are some valuable tips…

1. Don’t do any of these things on the due date if the assignment/project is still not complete. When you get down to the hour, buckle down and own that bitch.

2. If you have any cleaning that needs to be done, do that. You’re still in the house, so if you feel so compelled to work on the project, all you have to do is drop the broom and sit at your desk.

3. If you have an urge to grocery shopping, do it. I hate going to the grocery store when I have to. Going when I have a paper due the next day? Thrilling. Really, it is. I feel dangerously close to the edge when I do this.

4. Cook away. If you’re a meal prepper, this is an excellent way to procrastinate. Cook and everything you’ll need for the week, and then organize it!

5. Speaking of organizing, this is maybe the best way to productively procrastinate. My bookshelf is forever in disarray because I’m always taking books off and not replacing them, thus there are stacks of books scattered about that need replacing. If you’re not a bookaholic like me, filing cabinets, bank statements, and any other important things that need organizing are always fair game.

6. Get your fitness on! Unless exercising is the thing you’re procrastinating, it’s a great way to put off doing anything else. A lot of times if I find myself restless while trying to write a paper, I’ll lace up my running shoes and go for a twenty-minute run. If I’m extra antsy, I’ll head over to the gym for a Zumba class or pick up some heavy shit and put it down.

7. Read. Another personal favorite. Pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read, grab a blanket and a cup of tea, and go to town.

Procrastination doesn’t have to mean laziness. I have this mental disorder that prevents me from getting shit done early, so I’ve learned to not feel guilty about that by developing this method. Sure, an entire season of New Girl on Netflix is enticing, but you’ll feel better if you clean your apartment instead.

Samantha Glassford

A born-and-raised Jersey girl with a chronic case of wanderlust, Samantha spends her days reading, writing, and planning adventures. She currently teaches classes at the community college while living at home with her parents, trying and failing to become a part of the proverbial real world. Her dream is for someone to pay her for writing and traveling, but in reality she'll probably be teaching forever. Follow her mundane musings on Twitter @SamanthaG2012, and check out her personal blog, wanderlustingmillenial.blog.com

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