I have a confession to make. Of all my skills, I have one that stands out king of them all. I’m a professional procrastinator.
I don’t know when it happened or when the skill was developed.
The kicker: I don’t think I should ever give it up.
Some Preliminary Thinking
Procrastination has always been my strong-suit. Unfortunately, I have rarely tasted of its bitterness.
I’m pushed to delay projects and goals for no other reason than not wanting to do them at a given time.
Yes, sometimes I’m scared to start. More often, I’m scared of the quality of work and critiquing myself.
My delay does not feel like a dysfunctional mechanism of my being. It feels like I’m coping with how I function or ‘tick.’
The Woes of Procrastination
I don’t even need to list the research behind the dangers or negatives of procrastination. You know there are many out there that are studied and published.
Many articles and studies are based on a few negatives of procrastination:
Lack of Self-Determined Motivation
Put simply, I don’t push myself to do things I don’t want to do.
Why would I? Everything that needs to get done will eventually get done, right? I don’t think I’m dead yet or the marriage is heading South anytime soon.
My parents cringe when they think of me and procrastination. They know it’ll get done, but it’s on a tight schedule to the bitter end.
Tasks Not Finishing On-Time
When anyone procrastinates, the risk of failing increases simply because the workload can exceed time remaining.
Late work happens due to laziness, unforeseen complications, or bad guestimating. As a web programmer in varying degrees for a few years now, I can say that guestimating is a tough business.
Lack of Self-Efficacy
Not feeling your work will be valuable or appreciated is a tough emotion to swallow. Millions of people already suffer depression and self-doubt.
This may be the hardest point of procrastination among people. The antidote to this problem is often deeply rooted in others and their beliefs.
Embrace Your Procrastination
I may have tendencies towards a few of the few negatives listed above. None has stopped me so far. I wonder why, when I get a project done right away, I feel sad and not elated.
The only guess I have is the constant thought that I could be doing more for the project and continue polishing up the edges. I buffer the sides, prime, paint, seal, and it’s still not enough.
Tasks on the to-do list make it so I feel important. I have something someone wants. 90% percent of the time, I can do the work or research desired by the other parties involved.
New research talks about procrastinating as a good thing that may enhance outlook on the project or your life. These benefits from pushing off work are dependent on if you view procrastination is good or bad.
The research tries to label different scales to mark or examine among procrastinators and non-procrastinators. Unfortunately, many results have weak correlations and can’t quickly or definitely tell us anything.
One trend that did show what that the effect of flow (as defined by Csikszentmihalyi) was lessened in the working and learning processes for those who have procrastinated.
A Little Self Reflection
I am not the smartest guy in the world. I’d give up sleep to get a project done that’s due, all because I wanted to watch more minutephysics on YouTube.
I have a mixed bag perspective on procrastination. I think that it’s a good thing for mundane tasks without much involvement. Unfortunately, almost every homework assignment fits into this category.
You can also set procrastination arbitrarily. Most of the articles on this blog are written in the dead of night when I have procrastinated throughout the day. The weird part is they are written the day prior to when I want them done. It’s 1:30 am and I’m now finishing up this article I’ve procrastinated. I’ve procrastinated because I wanted it done by 10:40 PM so I can get 8 hrs of sleep before my daily workout at 6:30 AM.
I spend 1/2 my time researching and writing these articles than normal at the same quality because of procrastination. I have 2-3 articles published without procrastination… and they are some of my weakest writings.
Procrastination is a debatable topic right now regarding if it’s good or bad for you. Like stress, the worse you view procrastination, the worse it is for you.
One thing is constant, you experience less flow if you procrastinate.
Put simply, if you want the potential to fully enjoy the work and learn a ton from it, don’t procrastinate. Otherwise, it’s all perspective.