Recently, I read about why procrastination should be embraced. As a chronic procrastinator I was intrigued, but never bothered to read the entire article. Then in the beginning of February, I was listening to Radio Times on WHYY. The guest, Adam Grant, was talking about his newest book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. In the interview he mentioned that he was trying to break his habit of pre-crastination (i.e., finishing projects weeks or months before they are due) in order to become more creative. Grant’s mention of the benefits of procrastination definitely caught my attention this time. I began to wonder why I found it impossible to kick my procrastination habit and if it had any upsides in my life.

I consider myself to be a functioning chronic procrastinator. In high school I learned the very painful lesson that waiting to the last minute can hurt your creativity. It became a habit I tried to avoid, but starting projects extremely early, or pre-crastinating, wasn’t for me. I found that if I started too early on a project I had difficulty focusing. Of course, starting on a project at the last minute produces the same results because of panic. As I continued to examine myself, I discovered that when I wait for the perfect moment to complete a task, it is most likely never finished. Yet, I found it difficult to will myself to do something on the spot, especially if it was out of my comfort zone. I concluded that I work best in the moments when I feel motivated enough to complete a project in chunks, giving myself between a few days or hours before a deadline. (If I have that luxury.)

Did I find any upsides? Sort of. I learned that the sweet spot for completing a task is near a given deadline, but that deadline should have enough lead time to allow for mental breathing room. My bad habit is here to stay, but I now know there is a healthy amount of procrastination.

How do you view procrastination? Do you wait to the last minute or are you a pre-crastinator?


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