Procrastination has gotten a bad rap.
We’ve all heard the phrases “A stitch in time saves nine,” and “Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.”
In today’s fast-paced, always-on-the-go world, getting things done immediately is key.
People who procrastinate are generally seen as lazy and apathetic, but that’s not always the case.
While it’s never a good idea to turn in something late, there are a number of benefits to waiting until the last minute to get things done.
1. It gives you time to think before you write, say or do anything.
In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Frank Partnoy, author of a book all about procrastination ("Wait: The Art And Science Of Delay"), made a few valid points.
Before any decision, he says we should always “assess how long we have to make it, and then wait until the last possible moment to do so.”
This is partially because this gives you more time to assess and fully understand any situation before responding.
Odds are, even if you aren’t actively working on that term paper you’ve been putting off, it’s somewhere in the back of your mind.
Your brain is working through some of the kinks and alternatives before you even sit down to start typing.
Letting ideas ruminate first leads to a better end product.
The evaluating and thinking through stages of any project or decision are important steps, whether you’re composing an email to your boss or trying to decide if you want to go on a second date with your latest Tinder match.
2. It can actually make you more productive.
Many times, we procrastinate by doing something else instead of the things we don’t want to do.
This Business Insider piece calls this “structured procrastination.”
This means that while you are procrastinating on one task, you are getting other tasks done in the meantime.
This could be washing the dishes or finally sorting through all those papers that have been on your desk for months.
After you’ve accomplished all those other tasks, you will finally get around to finishing the task you’ve been putting off.
If you had just quickly worked through the original task, you probably wouldn’t have gotten through all the smaller chores and tasks, too.
On the flip side, many people who procrastinate are putting off small stuff they are less interested in or passionate about to work on bigger projects that are more important to them.
Either way, procrastinating is actually helping productivity by tackling several small projects first, or by focusing in on a bigger and more important project.
3. It gives you more time to work on important things.
There are just not enough hours in the day to complete every task on your to-do list.
We are almost always going to have to put off some of our duties for later.
By actually allowing yourself to save and forget about some tasks until later, you are freeing up time in your busy schedule for the items on your list that are most important right now.
You also give yourself more time to work on the projects you decide to actually tackle, and you can do a better job on the others later, instead of cramming everything into one day.
Of course, the trick is choosing which things must be done now and which things can be postponed for later.
4. Planning and working ahead isn’t always the most efficient or realistic route.
Sometimes, the best possible way to approach a situation is to go with the flow.
You can plan out your perfect career trajectory, but this has no bearing on the opportunities that will actually present themselves to you.
Part of the process is sitting back and waiting for the options, and then seeing what comes your way.
You might pick a major and plan a whole life around it, only to realize halfway through that you hate studying it.
Similarly, there’s probably been a time when you started working on (or even finished) a project, only to have your boss or professor change his or her mind and ask for something else.
Sometimes, the most efficient way to work is to leave enough time for these inevitable changes.
Curve balls and changeups are a natural part of life, and procrastination can keep you from having to redo your work.
5. It leads to creativity.
“Necessity is the mother of all invention.”
Laziness and procrastination can often help you find more efficient and creative ways to complete your tasks.
Procrastinators are often some of the most creative thinkers.
They just need a little extra time.