“Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today.” ?Benjamin Franklin
When I hear the word “procrastination,” the sayings above come to mind.
I used to think of procrastination as a negative word with only negative connotations. I will always advise my children to seize the moment and not procrastinate, but then I realized that there are two sides to every coin; what are the positive aspects of procrastination, and is there such a thing as positive procrastination?
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination has been labelled “the thief of time,” as well as “laziness,” “delays,” “idleness,” “poor time management,” “postponement,” and other derogatory terms.
“Procrastination is the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so. The word has originated from the Latin word procrastinatus, which itself evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow” ? Wikipedia
A look at the definition above brings to mind some instances where I purposefully delayed very important tasks and was later grateful I did; in other words, not all procrastination is bad. Although I had no idea that the outcome would be positive at the time of procrastination, I simply followed my hunches. Could this be considered positive procrastination? I decided to investigate what Positive procrastination entailed, and I came across a plethora of articles on the subject.
According to one of the articles, people who procrastinate are more likely to be productive than those who do not.
A researcher will classify procrastination as either Passive (maladaptive) or Active (adaptive). Active procrastination is known as Positive procrastination, whereas passive procrastination is known as Negative procrastination.
The Passive procrastinator is the person who becomes distracted while starting a task and abandons the task due to the distraction. In this case, the distraction is usually an interesting activity. This procrastinator may later return to the actual tasks and complete them, albeit in a hurry, but the failure to complete the task on time may have harmed the procrastinator’s self-esteem.
The Active Procrastinator, on the other hand, enjoys working under pressure, is able to always meet deadlines, and has a high level of self-confidence. As a result, the active procrastinator can put off tasks until the ninetieth hour while still delivering on time and accurately. Bill Watterson’s words below perfectly capture how an active procrastinator thinks.
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” ? Bill Watterson
Perhaps evaluating the negative and positive aspects of procrastination will help us see it for what it is: a coin with two sides.
Because of the various definitions given to it, the negative aspects of procrastination are very popular. The disadvantages are as follows:
– Some procrastination reveals the true image behind the act; for example, the procrastinator may be acting out of fear of making mistakes while handling the task, thereby postponing, more like shifting the evil day; this demonstrates a lack of self-confidence.
– Procrastination may result in failure depending on the task at hand. As an example, suppose a student is aware that an exam is coming up in two weeks and decides to watch movies instead of studying, postponing the study to only two days before the exam. Such a student may be doomed to failure.
– When there is a procrastinator on a team, the other team members will undoubtedly be affected by that procrastinator’s actions. This is due to the fact that each team member has a specific role to play, and if one aspect of the job is not completed by one procrastinating team member, the others will either bear the burden by taking over or risk team failure.
– When you postpone a task that needs to be completed today for another day, work piles up and can lead to work overload.
– Procrastination may be beneficial in the short term, but it is almost always detrimental in the long run.
– There are numerous other drawbacks that are not mentioned here.
According to various authors, the benefits of procrastination include the following:
– Procrastination may turn out to be the best option in a given situation. For example, if you have a number of tasks to complete at the same time, rather than solving them all at once, it is preferable to postpone some of them until a later date or simply go for a walk to clear your mind and set new deadlines.
– Procrastination may aid in task prioritization, as in the preceding example, rearranging the tasks also means prioritizing the most important tasks.
– Procrastination may reduce stress by giving you time to breathe and think.
– Procrastination can lead to creative ideas. Because the first ideas may not provide the best solution to a problem, those who procrastinate take the time to evaluate previous ideas and come up with a better solution.
– Another school of thought holds that those who procrastinate occasionally feel guilty, and as a result of their guilt, they tend to get more done in order to make up for the lost time.
– Instead of rushing through a task to avoid procrastination, it is preferable to sleep on it; this is a justification for procrastination.
Finally, it is safe to say that procrastination is analogous to a knife. The knife can be a very useful and important tool, but it can also be a lethal tool. The result or outcome of using the knife is dependent on both who finds the tool and what use it is put to.