Purposeful Procrastination: Does it Lead to Better Productivity?

minute read. Posted on August 8, 2012 in Business & Tech

As humans, we’re naturally inclined to procrastinate. We put off the doing of work in order to play. We have to push ourselves to do work, even if it’s not noticeable outside our subconscious minds, whereas existing leisurely requires no motivation. We come ready to play. So since work is hard and leisure is easy, we always tend to our nonwork feelings ahead of our work duties and deadlines. Is it easier to sit on the couch or take out the trash? To cruise Facebook or combat a large unread email inbox? Hopefully you get that I’m speaking in the most primitive way in terms of how we’re wired as human beings. After all, a lot of us enjoy to work (myself included) and thrive off the crossing off’s on our to-do lists. But the human brain is naturally wired to enjoy non-strenuous tasks over strenuous tasks. (Don’t quote me on this, I’m not a psychologist…)

Productivity increases as deadlines near

Remember cramming for final exams and homework? What did you do? You jammed all the productivity and brainpower you could muster up into short bursts of insane work accomplishment.You got your work done so you could go back to playing. You were PRODUCTIVE. As deadlines approach, they serve as quite possibly the best motivators ever. We know how guilty we feel if we miss a deadline so we try our hardest to not. And, more often than not, we wait until the last feasible block of time to pull our stuff together and hammer out whatever it is we’re working on. Again, we’re more productive when deadlines are near. When the finish line is in sight, we get our kick.

Can we scale this?

As I’ve been thinking about and noticing how we (or at least I) get so productive when the finish line is in sight, I can’t help but see the power in procrastination. This thinking has lead me to a term I thought I coined until I Googled it: purposeful procrastination. What if, instead of having a sense of guilt and ashame when we procrastinate, we instead do it on purpose? If a project comes in and a milestone is due in 14 days, shove it to the side until 12 days have gone by, then pick it up and hammer through it. And do this with ALL of our projects and tasks. That way, every time we’re working, we’re actually working. We’re working real hard, working productively. There would be no time to slack off because every item you’re working on is due in just the perfect amount of time for you to complete it in. In an ideal world, this would work out great! We would be so productive with our current tasks that we could easily take on more or, if your goal is freedom and leisure, play more!

But, here’s the unfortunate but. We would be opening a can of worms for disaster to strike. Technology would not be on our side and could mess up our whole scheme at an internet outage, software, or hardware moment’s notice. Same goes with people if our deadlines require social interaction or rely on work done by others.


Like I mentioned above, this is just a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and wanted to get my thoughts written down. More than that though, I want to hear your feedback. Can/should this method of work be treated as a productivity enhancer even when we leave little to no room for error? And finally, does anyone actively purposely procrastinate? How’s it working out for you?

Maybe this is just me looking for an excuse for my procrastination, but I think there’s something of value to purposely procrastinating…