Procrastination is generally seen as a bad thing – something you want to avoid.
But that’s not always the case.
There are some situations where procrastination can be good. In the right circumstances, it can help and benefit you.
What are those situations?
That’s what this article is about. We will dive into 15 situations and ways where procrastination is good.
1. Procrastination can be helpful when trying to use your time effectively
Now, when it comes to your most important tasks, procrastination generally hurts instead of helps. It can be easy to procrastinate on your important tasks for less important ones – and that’s not good.
However, in certain situations (and depending what you procrastinate on), procrastination can help you.
Let’s look at how:
Before jumping into your work without a plan
When trying to get important work done, it’s important to plan before you act. Otherwise, you are likely to waste a lot of time and do more urgent and easy work than the most valuable work.
When you get to work or before you jump into the tasks of your day, make sure you have a plan ready. It’s better to put off starting and plan your day out than to jump into everything without a clue which way to go or without knowing what’s most important.
If you need to work
Entertainment is great. Phone, socials, TV… fun stuff. Except when you need to work.
We can be good at putting off work for more enjoyable tasks, but we need to do the opposite and put off the fun and do the work first – and then let the fun be the reward.
When tasks are low value tasks (busywork)
It can be easy to get caught up in the little stuff we need to do. It can be easy to get caught up in emails, tasks that seem “urgent”, and busywork.
The problem is, often those aren’t what’s most important. We may think “well at least I’m doing something” but in reality we are not getting much or anything done (or not nearly as much as we should).
It’s sometimes easy to put off the more important tasks because they seem harder and bigger and less fun and do easier tasks instead.
We need to flip that.
Instead of procrastinating on our most important tasks, the harder stuff, we should procrastinate on the low value tasks that we so easily get caught up in. Save those for later (or never at all), and focus on your most important tasks instead.
With tasks or activities that waste time
Similarly, when we have big tasks that may seem hard, it’s easy to put those off and piddle around. We may check our socials, email for the 5th time, or so on.
We may hop on a quick game “just for a second” or go chat with someone.
Instead, procrastinate on those tasks. Put those off for later, and do the important tasks first.
When other tasks are more important right now
Lori Rassas, a career coach, HR consultant, and author, says that it’s good to put off other tasks when more pressing matters come up. In her own words:
“By this I mean you actually should push off a meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon until Friday morning if, in fact, it means it will free up your time to finalize a presentation that will prevent a fire at your Wednesday morning presentation. In this sense you are not procrastinating for the sake of procrastinating. Rather, you are making strategic decisions as to how to best use your time today, in order to plan for a more orderly tomorrow.”
When you wait to batch
Dr. Frank Buck, author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders, suggests postponing some tasks and errands till you saved up enough and then do them all at once. This saves you time from jumping back and forth between tasks.
He also says that when you do that, you get more done, make fewer mistakes, and are more likely to get in a state of flow. He says “the resistance of not wanting to start is replaced by the feeling of not wanting to stop”.
The start often keeps us from starting and procrastinating in a bad way. When, however, you put off the tasks to batch them, you only have to “start” once, instead of multiple times, and you can get into that “flow’ as well.
2. Procrastination can help you be more creative
When it comes to creative work, procrastination can be a good thing.
Let’s say you are working on a blog or graphic or article. Instead of finishing it up immediately, putting it off and taking time away can help your subconscious work on the task when you aren’t thinking about it.
When you get back to it, you often have a new perspective or other ideas to make that creative work better.
It could be simple as taking a walk (while not thinking/dwelling on the task), taking a shower, or sleeping on it.
3. Procrastination can help you when stuck on a problem
If you are stuck on a problem, taking time away can help.
Sometimes when we get in the middle of a problem, our brain gets a narrow view on it. We get tunnel vision and have a hard time seeing other solutions.
But when we take time away, it allows our subconscious to work on it and helps get us out of that narrow view. When we come back to the problem, we are likely to see the situation with a fresh view.
4. Procrastination can help when making a big decision
Sometimes procrastinating on decisions can be bad– we fear making the wrong decision, so we keep putting it off longer than we should.
However, the opposite can be true as well. We can rush into a decision without taking time to think on it and making sure it’s the right one.
If you are making a big decision (and even some small ones), it can be good to procrastinate before deciding. It can be easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment or get into a narrow tunnel of mind, and then we end up making a decision we regret later.
If you put it off and allow yourself time to think on it (consciously and subconsciously), that can help you make a better decision. The adage of sleeping on it before deciding is a good one.
Eileen Ross with Everything in its Place (and author of Organizing of Dummies) says this:
By delaying making an important decision, you can spend time gathering more information. Maybe you need more research, want to gather more opinions, or survey a different group of people to find out what they want. This can save a lot of money, which is why products are tested before they are released to the public.
5. Procrastination can help you see the big picture
As mentioned in decision making, when you are stuck in the moment, either with a decision, problem, or a situation in life, procrastination can help you see the big picture.
Often, things seem bigger and more important than they really are when they are right in front of us. When you have a flat tire, at the moment that’s a BIG deal. But, in the long run, it’s not that big at all.
It just seemed that way because it was close and right in front of us.
Procrastinating and waiting helps us lose the narrow frame of view and see the bigger picture.
6. Procrastination can help when you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or about to be burned out
Sometimes we get overwhelmed because we don’t know how to differentiate important from unimportant tasks or we don’t know how to delegate tasks (or delete or diminish them).
Other times we don’t know how to say “no”, so we overwhelm ourselves with other peoples tasks.
Or it could be just a busy season of work or life.
First of all, there are things we don’t need to procrastinate on or sacrifice when that happens: our health, exercise, sleep, eating well. All of those are important all the time and can help you stay sane in the busy time.
However, when you are feeling burned out, stressed, and can’t think, taking time away, even just a few minutes, can be a good thing.
Often it’s better to go to sleep and get a good nights sleep and hit it hard and refreshed in the morning than trying to push through the night to get something done. Unless you are a night owl, you will often find yourself wasting a lot more time staying up than if you slept and got up early.
Putting it off and taking a walk or doing something else can help you get your mind off of it, refresh a little bit, and allow you to come back and hit it hard with more energy.
You will find that you often get it done faster by taking breaks than if you just try to drive through it all without stopping.
7. It can be good to procrastinate before making a commitment and saying “yes”
Whether someone is asking us to join something or do something for them, it can be easy for us to jump in with a “yes” before making sure it’s something we really should do.
You must remember that saying yes to one thing is saying no to another. If you say yes to every request for assistance, you are going to end up doing a lot of work that isn’t that important.
Also, every minute you are working on unimportant tasks, it keeps you from the important tasks.
It’s best to put off agreeing to something until you make sure it’s something important and that you are okay with dropping something else for it.
And, you can always put off that yes till later. You can say you can’t do it now, but you will be glad to consider it again down the road.
8. Procrastination can help when impulsive or weak in certain areas
Let’s take shopping, for example. If you have trouble with impulse buying or resisting a “good” sale (though remember, the best sale is when you don’t buy: you save 100%!), procrastinating on purchases can help.
For example: for any unplanned purchase, you must wait till the next day before buying. This removes the impulse part of it. If after a day you feel it’s something you need, you can go back and get it.
If you don’t have the money to spend, put off browsing the sales pages, Amazon, or the store.
You may make a commitment with someone that before you buy something that you see that you like, you will give it a 24 hour rest period.
If you are tempted to eat candy or cake when you are trying to cut back, telling yourself, “I’ll do it in 15 minutes” can help you resist the temptation. When the 15 minutes comes, you will often be in another state of mind where you feel more resistant (though putting it away or not having them at all helps too!).
There are other tools you can use to help you with dealing with those weak areas, but procrastination can be a tool you can use to help you.
9. Procrastination can help when trying to save money or get out of debt
If you are trying to save money or get out of debt, procrastination can be a helpful. Put off buying that car, getting another credit card, buying that new phone, whatever it may be.
If something will work against you saving that money or getting it off, procrastinate on it! Tell yourself, “I’ll do it later, after I get out of this debt”.
10. Procrastination can help when dealing with disagreement
When you are in a disagreement or upset about a situation, procrastination can be a good thing.
If you are angry and want to send that special email you just typed – wait before sending.
If you are upset at someone or you both are having a discussion and it’s starting to get heated, stop before saying something you regret and put off the discussion until you both grow calmer.
Even with an apology, waiting till both of you are a little calmer before giving it can help.
Procrastinating in disagreement can save you from a lot of headache, hurt relationships, and words you can never take back.
11. Procrastination can help when not in the best state of mind
Sometimes we aren’t in the best state of mind (such as when you have a lack of sleep or upset about a situation or drunk).
Making decisions or acting on something in these situations can do a lot of harm.
Instead, when you are tired, inebriated, depressed, or just not mentally “all there”, procrastinate on making a decision, sending that email, or saying the stuff you want to say.
Things often look different in the morning. Before you do something you regret, procrastinate.
12. Procrastination can help when having a hard time focusing on a task
If you are having a hard time focusing on your work or task, it may be time to take a break, whether for a few minutes or for the day.
Putting your task off just for a little bit (or for the night), can help you come back at it refreshed, more energized, and with a greater ability to focus.
13. Procrastination can help when collaboration and feedback would benefit
Often in a project, getting feedback or other people’s input would make the project even better.
In those situations, unless there is a time constraint, procrastinating on finishing the task to allow time for that collaboration could benefit you in the long run.
14. Procrastination can help when you really want to accomplish your goals and dreams
Now this may seem opposite – and in some ways it is. Yes, too many people don’t ever finish their goals because of procrastination – they put off the tasks that will move them to it or put off starting.
When we put off those tasks, we often fill them with other short-term rewarded tasks.
Instead, we need to flip that. To finish your goals and dreams, you will likely have to make sacrifices. It may mean less TV. It may mean missing out on parties. It may mean sacrificing what you spend on.
However, all of those things are worth procrastinating on. Yes, if you do them now, you get a short-term reward – you have fun – now.
But long term, you are left in the same spot.
However, if you procrastinate on those tasks and short-term pleasures, put them off for now for something greater, down the road, not only can you do a lot of those things, but you’ve also achieved your goals and dreams.
15. Procrastination can show you what’s important to you
As Coach Emma Donavan says (from coach-emma.com), procrastination can show you what’s most meaningful to you. She says that “people rarely procrastinate on the activities they love or know are truly necessary. Procrastination can encourage you to reassess your priorities.”
If you find yourself procrastinating on certain kinds of tasks, it could be that you aren’t really passionate about the tasks. While there some tasks we have to do no matter what, in other situations it may be a sign that we need to reevaluate what’s really important to us.
Christine Mitterbauer, a Career Coach at christinecoaching.co.uk, says she experienced this.
Through the help of a friend, she came to realize that procrastination helped her see how she wasn’t happy in her business anymore. She says,
“It taught me that procrastination can often be a sign that what you’re working on doesn’t feel worthwhile anymore. It feels pointless. Procrastinating can be your gut telling you that you need to make some big changes..”
From a business perspective, Dominick Yates, CEO/Founder of Simplegacy, shared this:
Multiple times during or after a busy period, we were able to look back and evaluate what was truly vital for the company to focus its resources on during that time. The procrastination helped shed light on things that were busy tasks and on other items that probably weren’t the best initiatives to begin with. Each time procrastinating has put our backs to the wall, we’ve come away with some great take away items on eventuating the importance of an idea before running with it.
While procrastination can hurt you, if you do it right, it can benefit you as well.
Truth is, in life, you always will have to procrastinate on something – so make sure to do it right.
Now to you: Do you have any stories where procrastination has benefited you? Let us know in the comments below!