How To Procrastinate Productively

Because there’s only so far down your to-do list those videos of pandas falling over will get you

How To Procrastinate Productively

by Jazmin Kopotsha |
Published on

In the process of writing these first few lines I've scrolled through about 30 pictures on Instagram, replied to a WhatsApp message that definitely could have waited, deleted three emails and gotten a glass of water that I don't really want to drink. All just to fill the time with empty tasks to avoid spending time on what I know I really need to be doing. Sound familiar? Thought so. Procrastinators, eh? What are we like?

Procrastinating is a sneaky one, though. Even though we’re all very aware of the trap we so readily fall into, once we're in the distraction zone, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the productivity tunnel.

But what if we were to use procrastination to our advantage? What it procrastination wasn’t just pointlessly swiping on social media for hours, taking personality quizzes and watching videos of pandas falling over? What if, in procrastinating we were secretly getting other shit done?

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Now, you’re probably thinking ‘that’s not procrastination, then, is it?’ However, we figured if you’re going to waste time doing things that feel far removed from the thing you’re actually meant to be doing, you may as well be doing something that’ll help you get there in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll take discipline and determination to redirect your habit of leaving things too late in order to spend an hour trying to land Gryffindor in the Which House Would You Be In At Hogwarts? Quiz, but these tips for pretend procrastinating might help you get a little bit closer to getting that other stuff done.

Ditch Social Media. Hide Your Phone. Seriously. Forget It

Scrolling until you find something interesting doesn't count, we’re talking full intent to either post or interact with something you know is there. Struggling to think of an example beyond stalking the guy your mate hooked up with over the bank holiday weekend? Figures.

Social media is clever like that, though. It makes us think that there's always something going on (which to be fair, there kind of is) and so we keep clicking the apps open to see what we’ve ‘missed’. Sure, there's the whole social media addiction thing that were all secretly pretending we’re not subject to, but there’s also the fact that we’ve got a nasty habit of always having our phones within reach and the moment it flashes, beeps or buzzes, we’ve stopped what we’re meant to be doing. Consider social media (and your phone) as procrastinations gateway drug.

Make A List And Prioritise The Things You Don’t Want To Do

If you’re not yet one of those people who likes to make lists, it might be time to grab a pen and paper. First of all, I find that writing lists is a really nice way to ease my way into (ahem, put off) the start of the day and we all know there’s nothing quite as satisfying as crossing something off a list so that’s always a bonus.

The key to actually having things to cross off, though, is making sure you create a list with lots of different tasks of varying levels of ease on it. Stanford professor John Perry theorises that ‘the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.’ So if you have a list of scary, important things that you're avoiding alongside lots of smaller manageable and just as necessary tasks to do, those smaller ones should (in theory) get done when otherwise you might've avoided them all together. Sneaky, isn't it? 'Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list', he says. Which is the whole point of procrastinating, no? Don't make the mistake of cutting down your to do list, you want to have lots of options to avoid that other thing.

Use Life Admin As A Distraction

Okay this isn't one that you want to go bragging to your boss about, but if you find yourself trying to hide the Facebook tab on your work computer everytime someone walks into the office, this is probably a more positive way to procrastinate.

Create another list that you keep somewhere on your computer in a doc or note file, and fill it with all of the boring life admin that you always intend to do over the weekend but spend it hungover instead. Things like 'open savings account', 'cancel subscription', 'sign up for salsa class', 'book train home', 'understand what's going on with my tax', and so on. And if you find yourself itching to distract yourself from a piece of work that you really don't want to be doing, give yourself 20 minutes to cross some stuff off of that list as well. Even if it's just one thing you manage to do, you'll feel smug about having at least tiny bit of your life in order.

MORE: Memes About Anxiety That Are Almost Too Real To Lol At


The Debrief Anxiety Memes

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But seriously though

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So that's where I've been going wrong...

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*recalls every bad thing ever done in entire life*

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But, you know. No worries...

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Doesn't go to plan

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For the record

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Every, Single. Time.

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Internal monologue of nightmares

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Oh yeah. That.

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You hate me? I'm fired? Someone died? What is it?

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Got a pen?

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'WTF could you possibly want from me?'

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Don't question me, Carol.

Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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