Productive Procrastination and the Art of Using Your Downtime Well

Learn how you can make the most of your procrastination in this guide about productive procrastination. You can listen to the audio version here.

Keep reading to learn more.

Productive Procrastination and the Art of Using Your Downtime Well
Learn how to effectively use your downtimes

You CAN procrastinate productively

Procrastination is far more common than you might think.  

Believe it or not, even the most productive people procrastinate. No one, and I mean absolutely no one is exempt from that rule (and that includes yours truly). We all have times when we just don’t feel like working.

However, that does not mean that you can’t use the time well. Yes, you can procrastinate effectively. 

You CAN procrastinate productively. Procrastination does not have to be a complete waste of time.

Only because there are times when we procrastinate and don’t feel like doing the tasks we are meant to do at that time does not mean those times have to be a complete waste, and that’s where my strategy for productive procrastination comes in.

The idea is simple – during the times you procrastinate, do things that are beneficial and ideally things that will move you forward but yet are easy and even fun to do. Even though you do not want to do the work that you are meant to do at that particular time, you can still do things that will help you, and that’s the whole idea behind this strategy of productive procrastination.

So how do you go about this, and start productive procrastination?

That’s what we’ll look at that next.


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Yes you can procrastinate productively!
Yes you can procrastinate productively!

Creating your productive procrastination list

Productive procrastination starts by creating a list of all the things you can do during the times when you are procrastinating.

The things that go on your list ideally will be:

  • things that don’t require much thinking on your part like decluttering,
  • things that you have fun doing, like going for a walk or cooking
  • things that help you get out of the procrastination zone for example a quick nap or a shower,
  • things that help you restart, for example meditation and workout),

and so on.

The key is to do something that will benefit you, but you won’t struggle to do. Something that you will, ideally, actually enjoy doing. That can not only be a great way to use the time well, it can even potentially get you back on track and help you do what you needed to do in the first place.

15 ideas for your Productive Procrastination List
Here’s what you can put on your productive procrastination list

15 ideas for your Productive Procrastination List

By now you have a basic understanding of the productive procrastination strategy. Now I will give you some concrete ideas for things you can include in your productive procrastination list, to help solidify the concept for you and get you started on creating your own Productive Procrastination list

  1. MeditateMeditation is by far one of the best ways to restart your brain. There are lots of advantages to meditating, and as such meditation is a great activity for times when you don’t really feel like working. It can help you calm down, it can help you get out of your head, and even help unblock whatever it is that’s getting in the way of what you need to do. So meditation is the first one, and a really good one to include on your productive procrastination list.
  2. Go for a walk – Going for a walk can have similar benefits to meditation. Walking outdoors has also been proven to have creativity boosting effects, which makes this another good activity to include on your list.
  3. ExerciseWorking out has lots of health benefits (both to your mental health and physical), and as such is a great way to spend your procrastination periods. Even a 3 to 5 minute high intensity workout can do wonders for your concentration and creativity.
  4. Have a quick shower – I often get my best ideas in the shower, and I am not the only one. Having a quick shower can be a great way to restart yourself and snap yourself out of your funk. So having a quick shower can be another good one to add to your list.
  5. Brainstorming – If you are struggling to work, spend a bit of time brainstorming about all the things that you can do for the project at hand. This will be a great distraction and the ideas you get will be very useful later on. Not just that, brainstorming can even help you get back in the zone and get your work done.
  6. Declutter – Often clutter is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination since it can bring your energy and motivation levels down, and that makes decluttering an ideal candidate for your productive procrastination list.
  7. Read – You can read a book or articles during times when you don’t feel like working and procrastinate. Ideally read something that will be useful for you, or even something related to your goals. I am not recommending fiction books here because those can be a bit too distracting, and sort of defeats the purpose of productive procrastination. If you get too distracted then it will be even harder for you to get back into the zone to do what you need to do. This is why if you are going to read something, I recommend reading nonfiction.
  8. Listen to a podcast – Like mine! Listening to a podcast, especially one that can help you, is a great way to spend your downtime. 
  9. Watch a TED Talk – Same principle as the last one. TED talks can be very insightful and educational, and as such makes for a great way to spend your downtime. 
  10. JournalingJournaling can be a very effective way to empty your mind of all that’s going on. It’s one of the most effective forms of mental decluttering. It is a great way to clear your head, and also really good for thinking out loud. It might even give you the clarity you need to stop procrastinating.
  11. Proofread your writing – If you do any sort of writing, proofreading and editing your written work is a great way to productively procrastinate. Proofreading your written work is something you’ll need to do anyway at some point, so you might as well use your downtime to get this done.
  12. Come up with new ideas – Few activities make better use of your procrastination time than coming up with new ideas. It can be as simple as just brainstorming and coming up with at least 5-10 new ideas, maybe ideas for potential solutions to a problem you are working on. The point of this exercise is to give your idea muscle a workout and it can also help in many ways down the line. Coming up with new ideas is a great way to productively procrastinate.
  13. Come up with ideas for your current project – The last one was about coming up with completely new ideas, whereas this activity will be all about the project you are working on right now. Maybe you can think of ways to do the work better, faster, and so on. Just come up with as many ideas as you can for improving and benefiting your current project. Brainstorming ideas for your current project is another great activity to put on your list.
  14. Learn a new language – Learning something new, like a language, helps improve your memory and brain function which in turn will help you improve your work, as well as your life. Language apps one your phone has made it really simple and easy to learn languages in your spare time. You can do this for 5-10 minutes, a day, or more if you want to. It doesn’t take a long a long time, and can benefit you, which makes this another great way to spend your downtime.
  15. Clear your email inbox – Clearing up your email inbox is a great way to use times when you don’t feel like doing your work. Dealing with email is one of the biggest distractions of our time, and clearing up your inbox means you will have less to distract you later.

There you have it, fifteen ideas to put on your own productive procrastination list.

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Ideas for your Productive Procrastination List
Get started on your own Productive Procrastination list

Summary

To summarise, here are the fifteen ideas again:

  1. Meditate
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Exercise
  4. Have a quick shower
  5. Brainstorming
  6. Declutter
  7. Read
  8. Listen to a podcast
  9. Watch a TED Talk
  10. Journaling
  11. Proofread your writing
  12. Come up with new ideas
  13. Come up with ideas for your current project
  14. Learn a new language
  15. Clear your email inbox

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Productive procrastination can massively boost your productivity
Productive procrastination can massively boost your productivity

Additional tip for your own productive procrastination list

I have a tip for you to help you make the most of your productive procrastination list and here it is: include things on your list that are related to work, or even things that you will need to do at some point anyway. That way you will not just effectively use the time that otherwise would have been wasted, you will also save yourself time later.

Proofreading your written work, cooking and clearing up your email inbox are great examples of this since you’ll need to do them anyway at some point. So when you are creating your productive procrastination list, include small things that you will need to do anyway at some point.

Get started with productive procrastination
Get started with productive procrastination

Next steps

Here’s the reality – there will be times when you just do not feel like doing your work. Times when you procrastinate. It happens to everyone. It is ok to have such periods of downtime. However, there’s no need to beat yourself up over them, especially when you realise that your periods of downtime and procrastination do not have to be a complete waste.

You CAN use your periods of procrastination effectively, as you just learned in this talk.

Create a productive procrastination list of your own to get started with this, it’s something you can do right now – doesn’t take long to create such a list. This way you can use times when you procrastinate the best way possible, and really make the most of them.

Time is your most valuable resource after all so don’t waste it. 

Procrastination does not have to be a complete waste of time
Procrastination does not have to be a complete waste of time

Closing thoughts

Procrastination has been synonymous with wasting time for far too long. But only because you do not feel like doing one thing does NOT mean that you don’t feel like doing anything.

That is not the case at all.

Often doing something else, something simple and useful, can be just what you need to start again. Productive procrastination is a great way to productively use the times when you are struggling to do your work.

You can procrastinate, and still be productive, by learning how to productively procrastinate. This is a great strategy that can significantly improve your productivity, and your life.

Give it a shot.

To learn more about using your time well, check out these 5 procrastination tips, as well as our other guides on productivity.

What are your thoughts about this productivity tip? Do you have any procrastination tip of your own to share?

Share your tips and opinions in the comments section below.

 

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