Procrastination is generally viewed as a bad habit that should be avoided or minimized as much as possible.
Everyone always talks about how you should never waste a minute of your day, how your time here on earth is limited and how nobody ever got anything done by sitting around.
And it makes sense, right? Sure it does.
Well, I'm here to break that negative belief in you about procrastination and introduce a totally new way to think about it.
It's not your fault that you've been led to believe that procrastination is a life-ruining habit.
When you learn how to use it constructively, you should be able to see improvements in your own level of productivity without thinking you have to become a superhuman go-getter or without needing to sacrifice every shameless, futile thing you love about life.
First, let's take a look at the general range of things people do when they procrastinate.
In pretty much all cases, procrastination falls under at least one of three main categories: doing absolutely nothing, getting something else done that's not so urgent or getting something else done that's even more urgent.
Here are the unspoken benefits of procrastination:
Getting something done that's more or equally as important first is a good way to use procrastination.
Let's say you really need to take your car in for repair, but you have a paper due the next day and you really can't afford to waste an hour or more of your time sitting in the dealership or mechanic's waiting room for it to get fixed.
Procrastinating on making the car appointment so you can get to work on the paper might be a good decision if your car is still drivable for another day or two.
In this case, you're getting something that's slightly more urgent done by putting something else that's a little less urgent off for a little while longer.
Stanford philosophy professor, John Perry, calls this structured procrastination.
What if you procrastinate by doing something that's a lot less urgent, but still should get done? Here's a good example: cleaning.
Raise your hand if you turn into a neat freak every time you're faced with some daunting task or responsibility.
Having a clean room, apartment or house isn't usually an urgent chore, unless you're having guests over, but it still needs to get done at some point.
So what if you have a 50-page essay due soon?
At least all the dishes are done and the bathroom is spic-and-span, and as long as you give yourself enough time to still get that essay done, your procrastination didn't push you back much at all.
What about doing nothing at all?
When you say you're doing nothing, you're usually still doing something, whether it's watching Netflix or sleeping in an extra two hours.
Procrastination can be beneficial when you use it to relax and recharge.
Unless by "nothing" you mean staring at the wall and letting the anxiety of facing your to-do list completely take you over, procrastination can support the health of your mind and body when you indulge in guilty pleasures that boost those feel-good hormones, prevents overwhelm and restores your focus.
Turning in early for the night when you're already pretty sleep deprived is almost always better for you than trying to cram for a test or finish a last-minute project.
Likewise, taking both short and long breaks has been proven to benefit the brain in all sorts of different ways, so procrastinating by taking some time away from what really needs to get done will actually refocus your mind and help sustain your momentum for longer periods.
If you're a creative person, you'll want to learn how to use procrastination a lot more constructively to benefit you even more.
Procrastination can actually help you become a better decision maker.
By delaying whatever you need to do, you get more time to actually think about what you need to consider first and then plan out the best course of action to take.
Rather than just going for it and getting it out of the way as quickly as possible — which is what a lot of people often encourage you to do —, procrastination allows you to develop a fresher, more creative approach that you probably wouldn't have been able to come up with if you didn't delay.
How cool is that?!
So, now that you're familiar with some of the major benefits procrastination really has to offer, just don't forget that anyone who led you to believe that it's such a bad habit isn't 100 percent wrong either.
There's a fine line between constructive procrastination and good ol' holy-crap-I-don't-want-to-this procrastination that turns you into an inefficient slob.
You can identify your type of procrastination by answering the "why" behind deciding to do it.
An episode of "Friends" and a slurpee might help you recharge a bit before hitting the books, or it may discourage you from wanting to read another sentence ever again.
We're all different, so you have to know yourself when it comes to this stuff.
Procrastinate wisely, and you, too, shall reap the benefits.