picture of woman with dog - productive procrastination

Productive procrastination? Isn’t that just a bit of an oxymoron?

Not really. Just because you’re procrastinating on one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t be doing something else productive with that time.

The problem is that most people procrastinate ineffectively. They prefer to play games on their phone, surf Facebook, or watch YouTube videos when they could be doing something productive with that time.

Before we get to how to procrastinate productively, let’s talk about why you might be procrastinating in the first place.

The causes of procrastination are many and varied. They can range from lack of self-compassion to thinking you can’t do something to underestimating the time it takes to complete a task. Procrastination can also be a learned behavior – if your boss or role model is a procrastinator then chances are good you’ll be one too. (source)

The truth is only you know why you procrastinate. And only you can make the decision to procrastinate effectively. I’m just here to put a few ideas into your head.

Here are 12 ways you can practice productive procrastination instead.

Procrastination tasks can be divided into three areas: tasks you do at your desk, tasks that get you up and moving, and tasks that help you relax.

Part 1 – Ways to procrastinate at your desk

Deal with your inbox. Research now suggests that an overflowing inbox can cause stress for your brain. Use some of your procrastination time to clean up your inbox, answer important emails and file, delegate, or delete the rest. 

Pay bills. Sit down at your computer and make those pesky bill payments out of the way.

Network with your community. If you’re networking on social media, then it’s not really a waste of time. Instead of mindlessly surfing and watching videos, reach out to your contacts or spend some time in the groups and communities you’re a member of.

Declutter your hard drive. Digital clutter and cause just as much stress as physical clutter. If you spend some time cleaning up and organizing your hard drive you’ll be clearing your mind at the same time.

Update your schedule. Do you need to make a doctor’s appointment, set a meeting for next week, or make plans to get your oil changed? A procrastination session is a great time to take care of details like these that have to be done during normal business hours.

Call a friend or family member. When was the last time you called someone just to chat? I don’t know about you, but I find that everything gets done by email or text these days. When you’re procrastinating, call someone and let them hear your voice for a change. Chances are they’ll be happy to hear from you, literally.

Make important phone calls. These seem to go hand-in-hand with important emails. They pile up quickly and are rarely enjoyable to deal with. However, they seem more interesting when you’re procrastinating.

Part 2 – Procrastinate and move at the same time

As an online entrepreneur, chances are you sit at your desk way more often than you should. Why not use some of your procrastination time to get up and move around a bit?

Do some housecleaning. There’s always housework to be done, and it’s another thing that gets put off in my house. But you can get it done in by tackling small jobs one at a time when you’re feeling like procrastinating on your regular work. Do tasks like

  • Vacuum the floor.
  • Scrub the toilet.
  • Take out the garbage.
  • Wash the dishes.
  • Mow the grass.

The added benefit of getting things done around the house is that they all require you to get up and move to do them.

Run errands. Get out of the house and run some errands. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to kickstart your motivation and end your procrastinating tendencies, at least for the moment.

Get some exercise. Exercise is a great way to avoid feeling guilty while you procrastinate. You can do things like a 4-minute Tabata routine, a few yoga moves, or get outside and go for a walk around the block. It all lets you procrastinate on the work sitting on your desk and gets you moving and doing something for your health.

And the upside is that exercise is known to clear the mind, so you may find you come back with fresh ideas to tackle the problem you were procrastinating on to begin with.

Part 3 – Relax while you’re procrastinating

Take a complete break. Sometimes the best way to procrastinate is to just stop for a while and have a rest. Naps are always good, or if you don’t want to sleep, you can meditate and give in to the temptation to just be still for a few minutes.

Do something creative. Using your creativity can help you relax and give you the break you need. If you have a hobby, spend your procrastination session working on your latest project. You can draw or color or doodle too.

So there you have it… 12 ways to procrastinate productively. You’ll still get things done even while you put off the tasks you dread. Of course you could always learn how to stop procrastinating too, but that’s a conversation for another day.

About the Author

Ruth is self-styled creative soulpreneur who loves that she gets to play with words and pictures for a living. She started her first email newsletter in 1997 and has never looked back. Between creating printables and courses, she publishes a daily newsletter, loves to golf and walk on the beach and is teaching herself how to do hand-lettering and doodle art.

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