Can procrastination ever be guilt-free? If you’re looking to boost your productivity, procrastination can be a dirty word. No professional wants to waste valuable time, no ambitious person can justify time spent shirking important duties… but, we all do it!

Being self-employed myself, procrastination is an ever-present threat. I’ve had to develop productive work habits to get things done when I’m not accountable to anyone but myself.

Still, I find myself consciously avoiding tasks sometimes. The good news is; that doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

Here are a few things I’ve learned about how you can make procrastination work for you!

Plan and Schedule

Why it works:

Sometimes, procrastination is our brain’s way of saying that it needs a rest. One productive way of allowing ourselves that rest is to include it in our schedule, even if it’s at the last minute.

When my days get super busy but I find myself tempted to procrastinate, I allot myself about an hour to do so. I sit down and rearrange my schedule for that day in order to make time for a break. This lets me see which task I am giving up in favour of procrastination, and then re-work this task into my schedule at another time. It will get done, just not right now.

You can also take this one step further; use your time to outline the baby steps of the big task you’re currently avoiding. Make a list; break it down so it seems easier to do. This form of procrastination can actually help you find the will to get that task done!

What to watch out for:

 It would be easy to slip into the habit of putting everything off to procrastinate ALL THE TIME. Make sure to designate a limited amount of time for your planning (or any other positive procrastination), then go back to work once that time is done.

Don’t be surprised at all the things you don’t get from the work you don’t do!

 Clean and Organise

Why it works:

This is my favourite way to procrastinate! I can’t work in a disorganised space… so in a sense, cleaning out my handbag, clearing my desk or picking random bits up off the floor gives me the space I need to focus. An added bonus lies in the fact that when my space is organised, I can find everything I need. Definitely a win for productivity!

What to watch out for:

It would be easy to get carried away. Though you can allow yourself an hour or so to make your work space sparkle, it would definitely be a bad idea to go around cleaning out cupboards, polishing silverware and changing curtains! Concentrate on having an organised work space. ?

Personal Care

Why it works:

I have theorised in a previous post that adults are nothing but huge, communicative, self-reliant infants. Like babies, when we’re dirty, tired or hungry, we get cranky. Perhaps the reason you’re not able to focus on the task at hand is because your body is demanding that you focus on yourself for a while.

If you’re in a rut or ‘zoning out’ easily, try getting up, stretching, having a glass of water, a light snack or even a shower. A bit of self-care and you might just get your second wind!

What to watch out for:

 Of course, ‘Personal Care’ is pretty general. Yes, you should be clean, well-rested, well-fed and dressed (even if you work from home). No, you don’t need a five-course meal, your hair doesn’t need to be perfectly coiffed and you can skip the false lashes.

Don’t overstretch the idea of self-care to give yourself more excuses to veg out!

Do that thing!

Why it works:

Sometimes, I find that I am procrastinating because the things on my to-do list are overshadowed by something else; something that is claiming all my valuable mental real estate. When that happens, I shift my priorities and try to resolve whatever is bugging me. 

Can’t focus on work because your rattling muffler is on your mind? Stop, call your mechanic to make an appointment, then get back to work.

What to watch out for:

Whatever you do, try to make sure the action you’re taking is something you would have done anyway, at another time. It should also be a priority. This is not the time to deal with your chipped nails or update yourself on the latest spicy celebrity gossip.

Watch a Tutorial

Why it works:

Those of us who want to maximise our productivity are constantly seeing better ways to get things done and expanding our knowledge base. The problem is that, with a busy schedule, it can be hard to squeeze in the courses, reading and practice we need to diversify our skills.

When I find myself losing focus on the task at hand, sometimes it helps to temporarily re-focus on something else; something that will enrich me or improve my skills. Watching a video tutorial, listening to an audio-book or otherwise absorbing useful information not only ensures that your wasted time is never truly wasted; it can also give you a sense of purpose and renewed motivation to get those unsavoury chores done!

What to watch out for:

The world of video tutorials (read YouTube) is a dangerous place. It’s a maze. If you let yourself get sucked in, it can be very tricky to find your way out. Turn off AutoPlay, select your viewing material wisely and watch ONLY THAT.

Apart from designating a fixed amount of ‘procrastination time’ it helps to have a short list of videos you need / intend to watch or things you need to learn about. Don’t meander aimlessly through the inter-webs; select something useful, inspiring and instructional that fits into your designated time frame, and… watch ONLY THAT.

My key message here is that procrastination isn’t always bad. Sometimes, your body and mind need it. Just make sure that when you do it, you do it consciously, do it for a limited time frame and try to do something you would have done anyway!

Wishing you all a pleasant and productive week!



One thought on “Procrastinate Properly: How to stay productive when you just don’t feel like doing anything!”

  1. Loved this post Joleen – That’s a really interesting point about procrastination being your body’s way of telling you it needs a break. I hadn’t really realised that but can see it’s very true. In fact, I am going through this right now! x

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