When you hear the word “procrastination,” you probably think of the hundreds of things you SHOULD be doing instead of what you are doing right now. In fact, procrastination has become a way to self-deprecate and joke about our shortcomings. Just ask the Etsy shop owners who make money selling procrastination merchandise like this poster.
But what if I told you that procrastination isn’t always bad?
When Procrastination Helps
In the book Originals, Adam Grant writes, “Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource of creativity.”
Here are a few reasons Grant makes that declaration:
- Many great artists in history did not create their “hits” until they were well into their careers. By creating volumes of work, they increased their chances of uncovering a piece of work that was popular with the masses.
- Artists who create large volumes of work pursue thousands of ideas, but by procrastinating in the creation of all of those ideas, they were able to separate the good ideas from the bad.
- Those great artists tested out different works of art to see what was popular and what tanked. Then, they revised their strategies and products to better align with what their customers wanted.
- Entrepreneurs who have a new or original idea may benefit from procrastination by letting someone else be first-to-market. Let the other person test the market viability (and profitability), work out the kinks, and determine consumer needs that are still unmet.
DISCLAIMER: Not all procrastination is good. If you leave this article and triple your Facebook stalking time, you’ve missed the point. Procrastination is destructive when your time is spent on low-value tasks instead of activities that propel your career forward.
How to Procrastinate Like a Pro
- Generate tons of ideas.
- Allow time for the ideas to marinate.
- Separate good ideas from bad then pursue the good ones first.
- Test your ideas out on your target market.
- Use feedback to improve your ideas.
- Do not be afraid to be second-to-market with an original idea.
Before reading the book, I did a few of these actions without realizing how beneficial it was. I tend to keep lists and notebooks full of ideas, and when one seems timely and viable, I follow through with it. The career benefit from this system is that my managers believe I am full of initiative and creativity. I may not be anymore driven or creative than my peers, but my actions give managers the perception that I am. And that is the key.
Related: Everyone is creative. Read these ways you can unleash and grow your creativity at work.
You can be that ambitious, creative person at work, too!
- Make a habit of writing down any ideas that come to you — problems brought up by peers or customers, creative solutions in other industries that could work in yours, redundant work that can be streamlined, etc. (Places I house my ideas include the Apple Notes phone app, on handwritten to-do lists, and in cute notebooks.)
- Once a week, review your ideas and choose the few that have the most potential. Bounce those ideas of peers and customers to gauge interest and find potential obstacles.
- After an idea has gained interest and proved to be actionable, GET IT DONE. Show your managers that you have the initiative to lead and make a difference at work.
Remember, if your idea is small and easy to implement, do not procrastinate — just get it done. The strategic procrastination we are talking about here is for big solutions, large masterpieces, and original ideas.
Be sure to check out the book Originals. I found it fascinating to hear about the process and the similarities of the world’s most original creators. And if you enjoyed these book-based insights, sign up for our free resource library where you can find resources for your career!
*This article contains an affiliate link for the book, Originals! As a bookworm, I only recommend books I really enjoyed reading. I hope you enjoy them, too!