Be a Pro ProcrastinatorWritten by Gavin Humphreys
Let’s cut the carp. There’s a lot of procrastination that goes on when we work from home.
Sometimes, I hazard to guess, hardly any work gets done at all - with all the distractions available to us.
Lots of blogs will tell you how to beat the urge and how to get focused on your work. They might tell you how not to procrastinate, and how to stay on task.
I want to tell you why procrastination’s ok (and help you procrastinate like a boss!).
What is procrastination?
Procrastinating is doing something without any final goal or perceived benefit.
It’s basically doing anything but what you are supposed to do.
It could be playing on your phone, chatting, bouncing a ball…
It’s got a bad rep, but is it really so awful?
Procrastination lets your mind wander away from work and stress. It’s about how you balance work and relaxation.
By taking you away from the stress, you can get a broader perspective on problems, or simply return refreshed to the laptop. So procrastination can make you more productive.
It can help the mind flow better, and it inspires a creative mindset. Your subconscious never stops working.
It is also a chance for you to grow in other spheres of life, if you are able to direct how you procrastinate.
Try to be in control of how you procrastinate - and conscious that you have to return to work afterward! I’ll talk more about that at the end, but first:
Pro ways to procrastinate
There are a million ways to procrastinate. Some of them are vices you might want to cut out - but if you think about it, many of them have one benefit or another.
Read a book
This can be a great way to escape the mundane, and transport your brain to another time or another world. It could be fiction or nonfiction, work-related or not, just so long as you enjoy it.
…and take your time! Yeah, as if it isn’t enough to procrastinate, why not procrastinate within your procrastinations?
I took a year to read The Count of Monte Cristo, with all my side-trackings. Go down the rabbit hole of info on google and Wikipedia, and take notes - they might inspire something later on.
Play a game
There are some challenging games on phones and consoles, but try to get away from a screen. Board games have innumerable benefits.
You might also try other less mentally intense games which will get you up moving - table tennis, basketball, frisbee, thumb war, trash-can basketball!
Go for a walk
This is an obvious one - but get out. Exercise, breathe fresh air, clear your head, and perhaps even get a daily dose of nature.
Write a short story
Engage imagination and write something down. Just a little story, it doesn’t have to be long. Try to do it by hand - that way, you are giving your eyes a rest from the screen and using another part of the brain in the process.
Doing nothing is not as easy as it sounds. However, by staying still and just letting the world go by, you will reap several benefits. Check out my blog on doing nothing!
You can also take a siesta. Sometimes a nap's exactly what the body and mind need.
Send messages to old friends
Don’t leave contacting friends for tomorrow. You know as well as I, it won’t happen unless it happens now. Put work to one side for a minute and contact someone who was once important in your life, but now has faded into the distance.
Benefits? Social interaction and friendship, you can’t get more important than that. You can return to work feeling positive and switched on.
Play a musical instrument
Picking up and strumming / blowing / plucking (or doing whatever you do to your musical instrument of choice) is a great way to break from the mundane. Playing music relieves stress, strengthens memory, and patience, improves movement control, and is terrific for your creativity.
Tidy up and clean
“I can’t work until I’ve arranged all my pens, and my books are alphabetical.” We’ve all been there - that urge to tidy. Well, give in to it. Make your desk nice and spotless. Dust. Have your papers perfectly aligned.
If you are anything like me, it won’t last long. But in the meantime, you have moved a little, you’ve got rid of unnecessary clutter, and you might just have put you or thoughts in better order to carry on with the work you were ‘supposed to be doing.’
Read and watch inspiring blogs and videos
In the old days, one would climb a misty mountain to gain words of wisdom from a wiseman. Or listen tentatively whenever the village elders spoke their stories. Or attend the lectures of your favorite professors. Now we have gurus coming out our ears.
Between blogs, master courses, and inspirational videos, never in the history of mankind have we had so much wisdom at our fingertips. Admittedly, neither has there ever been so much idiocy on hand. Nevertheless, if we take to the internet with a critical mind, we can be inspired and enlightened from the comfort of our seats as we take a coffee. Then get back to work.
If you are working from home, then eat well. Slow cooking is a great way to get flavorsome and healthy food. Stick on the pot roast (or whatever it may be!) before you ‘go to work’ at a low heat and every hour or so nip to the kitchen and check on it.
You can also put the candy bar to one side and use five minutes to make some healthy snacks, like cutting yourself up a fruit salad.
How to bring your focus back to work
The problem with procrastination is you might forget to get back to work!
There are several ways to do this.
- Give yourself a set time, for example, fifteen minutes ‘playtime’ every two hours. If you don’t trust yourself to get back to it, set an alarm.
- You could procrastinate with a limited purpose - e.g. I will play one tune, I will make one snack, I will tidy one bookshelf. And then back to work.
- If you have a meeting coming up, break before that meeting so that you have a deadline, and it will mean you have a clear head for the discussion.
- If you have a procrastination habit that tends to last too long, then change - try another idea from the ones above for when you are distracting yourself.
- Make procrastination part of a healthy work routine - if you have a productive schedule, then procrastination can be a natural part of that.
Leave a note below to tell us how you procrastinate - and please share any tips you have!