How Procrastination Can Improve Efficiency

My favorite work-related topic…








Before I tell you how procrastination can make you more effective and productive, let me just clean the dishes and throw in a load of laundry. There, now we can get—oh, there’s my microphone, I should record that podcast I drafted yesterday. An overdue notice about the quarterly taxes. Hmm. But I did say I would tell you about procrastination. Maybe I should get to that.

There are a few truths at play here:

1) work expands to fill the available space, and

2) the more you do, the more you can do.

Packing It In

If you have three hours to write a blog post, it will take three hours. If however, if you procrastinate work until there’s only 40 minutes left till deadline, you will write that blog post in 40 minutes. What did you do with the other 2 hours and 20 minutes? You got stuff done.

The key is to not procrastinate with idle pastimes. Watching a movie, walking the dog, and getting a manicure are all fine pursuits and you should make space in your life for them, for balance. But to make procrastination increase your productivity, you have to be working on other to-dos when avoiding the urgent to-do.


Procrastiwork is a term coined by Jessica Hische, a graphic designer. Sometimes she describes it as working on your passion project instead of the one that is paying the bills. In Jessica’s experience, these passions pay off in terms of personal satisfaction and growth, as well as building her brand and creating a environment where those passions can turn into paid work. Font art is her gig, and she was recently contracted to do an entire series of covers for Penguin classics.

Some of my own procrastiwork includes writing how-to posts for other editors. That turned into lucrative teaching gigs, and satisfied my urge to help others without overtaking all of my time.

Tame Procrastination

When the deadline is really looming, however, I trick myself into getting at the most pressing to-do by committing to just 10 minutes working on it. I set a timer and tell myself that “after 10 minutes of earnest work on this, I can stop.” Most often when the time or goes off, I am well into the groove and I keep working for at least an hour. Then I feel better about the job and can get a lot more done on it in the day. On the rare occasion, I leap up at the alarm, kiss it and run away. And that’s okay too.


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