The new year is here and I\u2019m sure you have a number of resolutions that you\u2019re starting to put into action. If procrastination is one of the things you hope to work on this year, I\u2019m going to address why that might not be the best idea after all.\r\n\r\nCollege was the first time I started practicing productive procrastination. \u201cPracticing\u201d make be too generous of a term, as the weight of essays and readings drove me to it. I joked with friends that I got so much done when I had a paper due: laundry, planning my classes for the next semester, reading for every other class that had been impossible to get through before.\r\n\r\nI eventually completed the essay by the deadline, and it often seemed that I spent more time worrying about doing it, compared to writing it. Why was it so much easier to do once I was in a time crunch? That might be a question for another time, but it turns out that my procrastinating might not have been so bad in the long run.\r\n\r\nToday we\u2019re going to cover productive procrastination and why it might be good for you, especially if you\u2019re a creative.\r\nA Procrastinator In A Hyper-Productive World\r\nIn such a\u00a0productivity-obsessed culture, even discussing \u201cproductive\u201d procrastination can seem a bit ludicrous. A quick search on Google for \u201cprocrastination\u201d shows how we\u2019re taught to think about it. Articles about beating procrastination once and for all and putting an end to lazy habits cover the first page. Not until the very bottom of it do we see something that states there could be merits to the practice.\r\n\r\nWhile I\u2019m all for to-do lists and knocking out major projects, I think that the mindset you use while procrastinating can help generate more productive ideas.\r\nNot every task must be done today. Prioritization is important, as is breaking down big tasks into manageable pieces.\r\n\r\n\r\nProductive procrastination is far from being lazy, in fact, it helps you complete other tasks on your to-do list that would usually bring you very little joy. The simple act of avoiding one task rearranges the way your brain considers the entire list and helps you do something else that is also important.\r\n\r\nThe way you organize your to-do list impacts your ability to practice productive procrastination. Because if you only have one giant project you need to work on, you might end up on Facebook or Instagram, completely overwhelmed. However, if you have a number of other, smaller projects on your list, then while you tread water on your main project, you\u2019ll also be getting other tasks completed. Having options of what you can do besides your main task helps you stay on top of many things at once and\u00a0keep your creative wheels turning.\r\n\r\nSome of my best ideas seem to come to me out of the blue. These epiphanies don\u2019t usually arrive when I\u2019d like them to or when I\u2019m sitting in front of my computer, staring at a blank document. Instead, they come when I\u2019m reading articles and suddenly two concepts connect in my mind and sometimes they come when I\u2019m doing something completely unrelated, like grocery shopping.\r\nGiving yourself the opportunity to generate these ideas sometimes means putting the main task off for a bit.\r\nThe Semantics Of Productive Procrastination\r\nThe term \u201cproductive procrastination\u201d was coined by Piers Steel who is a psychologist at the University of Calgary. On the other hand, there is also \u201cstructured procrastination,\u201d which is what John Perry, the philosophy professor at Stanford prefers to call it.\r\n\r\nWhile their wording differs slightly, they both take the approach that procrastination can be a positive force. What you do during your procrastination matters and defines the entire practice. \u00a0It boils down to how you use your time while procrastinating and even when you\u2019re on-task. Procrastination can then become a long brainstorm, instead of an involuntary stress-inducing behavior.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe more time you have, the more interesting ideas you can potentially come up with.\r\n\r\nNo matter what we decide to call this type of procrastination, it\u2019s important to see that it is multi-dimensional. Your disinterest in doing one task can inspire you to do something you typically put off. Later on, you may feel more pressed for time, but this doesn\u2019t have to be a bad thing. Procrastination boosts efficiency, even if that\u2019s because it\u2019s required now that you\u2019ve imposed a tighter timeline on yourself.\r\nA New View Of Procrastination\r\nMaybe we\u2019ve been approaching procrastination and productivity wrong all along. I believe the two are much more compatible than one might think.\r\nBack in college, the time I spend avoiding a task actually allowed me to mentally work out the possible ways to tackle it. It allowed for divergent thinking and long-term problem-solving. While I might not have been actively working on it, I had the time and space to think differently about it.\r\n\r\nProcrastination is rooted in\u00a0behavioral psychology. And pitting one task against another helps make procrastination productive. By that I mean, if the biggest task you have on your plate seems insurmountable, then the smaller tasks suddenly seem much more doable. This gets back to the contents and psychology of your to-do list. If you have a major app design to do, put it at the top of the list each day. While thinking of all the work you\u2019ll have to do might make you sweat a bit, if you have user research and analysis of your previous version on your list, you\u2019ll still be moving the larger project forward, even though it seems like you\u2019re avoiding it.\r\n\r\nConsider this: some of your favorite inventors and thinkers may also be procrastinators. Steve Jobs was a procrastinator, allowing inspiration to strike instead of forcing it out. Going back several decades, Robert Benchley, humorist and actor, explained in the 1930s why he seemed to get so much done. He was practicing productive procrastination, of course, yet others didn\u2019t know that.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nA black and white image of a man laughing.\r\n\r\nBenchley explained, \u201cThe secret of my incredible energy and efficiency in getting work done is a simple one \u2026 The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn\u2019t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.\u201d Through his humor, he explained how he constructed an entire bookshelf, on top of other feats, mainly because he was supposed to be writing an article at that time.\r\n\r\nI am a firm believer that the best Ideas take time and procrastination happens to provide that. So are creatives more prone to procrastination? This is a contentious question, as it\u2019s hard to study and very easy for confirmation bias to sneak in. But time can work wonders when it comes to generating new and\u00a0creative ideas.\r\nThe Future Of Procrastination\r\nProductive procrastination has become almost an art form. It propels us forward in certain crucial tasks and allows us to mull over potential solutions to bigger problems. But it\u2019s important to think of the effect that modern day society has on our ability to procrastinate in a structured way.\r\nBack in Benchley\u2019s time, there was no Twitter or iMessage or Slack. Now we have countless distractions around the clock that can negatively impact our productivity. They certainly don\u2019t have to, but sometimes it is hard to switch off our devices that have programmed us to jump into action each time a \u201cding\u201d alerts us to a new notification.\r\n\r\n\r\nSo many apps trying to win your attention.\r\n\r\nDoes technology make us procrastinate more than we used to? This is a double-edged question because, on one side, we have more tools to help us keep track of our tasks, beyond the age-old handwritten to-do list. We might use Asana, or Trello, or Wunderlist. But, on the other hand, we also have a vast internet to distract us. The very tools that we use to get work done (our computers, tablets, etc) are precisely what can send us into an hour of cat videos on YouTube.\r\n\r\nProductive procrastination requires a healthy dose of self-control to take on an alternate task that helps you in the long run, instead of getting you completely off track. So maybe the real lesson here is to break down big projects into a number of different sub-tasks. When one part seems particularly daunting, there will always be another piece of the puzzle you can work on.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThis post first appeared on\u00a0Proto.io blog\u00a0and has been reproduced with permission.