Personal Finance

When procrastination becomes beneficial


Please submit the report with a deadline that passed yesterday. What do you mean you did not finish it? Did you even start it? How can you honestly state that you did not even begin? Then what about the other project due tomorrow. Will that also delay? By a week? What? How?

We lament the pitfalls, downsides, and struggles of procrastination that push work and personal tasks, hinder goals, and increase stress levels. Procrastination yields undesirable work outcomes including shrunken coordination, lower reliability, reduced predictability, and diminished work output that cuts firm profits. We continue this week in Business Talk’s miniseries on procrastination.

However, gloom and doom does not encompass every result from deferring and delaying our duties. One very specific aspect of delaying tasks must get addressed here and now. Short-term active procrastination can actually increase the quality of work output. Quick actions for difficult chores often makes the human brain rely on subconscious emotions for decisions and urges towards completion. When someone jumps quickly to complete a complicated task, they lose the benefit of consciously pondering the best or innovative solutions and fail to direct their subconscious and rob it from quietly ruminating on acceptable paths.

Simple regular duties can and should surely get dispensed with quickly and efficiently without delay from procrastination. But taking some moments to pause, reflect, and intentionally delay for a short time can prove useful. Do not take deliberate delays to be the same as laziness, poor time management, low motivation, or high anxiety induced procrastination.

Jin Choi and Sarah Moran explore the surprising upsides of positive active procrastination. Only a certain type of person tends to prosper under favourable stalling of work duties. Active procrastination comprises four components. First, some professionals actually hold a strong preference for pressure. They enjoy the time pressure that delaying brings and it helps them work, think, and achieve better without the downsides that such pressure brings for most other people.


Second, some workers make the deliberate decision to procrastinate. Regular procrastinators, often referred to as traditional or passive time wasters or time stallers, usually drift and linger from one activity to another without much planning or organisation around their time spent on activities. But a different breed of person who engages in active procrastination pre-plans their time and actions but builds in delays and postponing of certain duties on purpose in an organised but highly flexible way.

Third, active procrastinators still retain the ability to meet deadlines. Instead of underestimating the amount of time needed for task completion, active procrastinators can accurately predict the time needed to do each duty and utilise last minute time pressure to propel them towards their goals.

Fourth, active procrastinators can self-motivate, eliminate immediate gratification distractions, and push forward towards outcome satisfaction even though they postpone.

How do you know if you might work as an active procrastinator rather than a passive procrastinator? If you agree with the following eight statements, then you may join the ranks:

My performance tends to improve when I have to race against deadlines. I do well if I have to rush through a task. It’s really a pleasure for me to work under upcoming deadlines. To use my time more efficiently, I deliberately postpone some tasks. In order to make better use of my time, I intentionally put off some tasks. I finish most of my assignments right before deadlines because I choose to do so. I often start things at the last minute and find it easy to complete them on time. I often accomplish goals that I set for myself.

In summary, know how to differentiate between dangerous and detrimental passive procrastination and specific positive active procrastination. If the latter works for you, then utilise it to achieve your career objectives.