Why procrastinating can be good

Procrastinating

‘Sometimes problems work themselves out,’ our mothers would tell us when we were dwelling over our troubles. And they were right: sometimes if you wait a bit, situations change. Here are some reasons why we should occasionally just procrastinate on things.

Your subconscious does the work

Why is it that when you are daydreaming—on the bus, while doing the dishes, during a walk around the block—you get the best ideas? Or all of a sudden while in the shower you find the perfect solution to a problem.

The key lies in our subconscious. According to Paul Loomans, Dutch author of Time Surfing: The Zen Approach to Keeping Time on Your Side, our subconscious gets to work solving problems in its own time. Just ‘sleeping on it’ works because your subconscious has the time during the night to make associations and look for similar situations.

Inspiring procrastinators

Newton was actually supposed to be picking apples when he sat under the tree thinking about gravity. Shakespeare thought up Henry VI at the same time he was supposed to be translating another play. And there are countless examples of artists and inventors who were all-stars at procrastination, including Jane Austen, Thomas Jefferson, Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci. They saw that taking action is not always equivalent to progress but that a thought, idea or a response sometimes needs time to sink in.

 

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Turn it around

Procrastination is often mistaken for laziness, but many procrastinators are busy, hardworking people—they just don’t always do what they are supposed to, according to John Perry, American philosopher and author of The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing. Instead, he believes, they do other less urgent but useful things, like sorting the mail, or tidying up. Perry says this is good: It gets you to stop avoiding these tasks that you would otherwise avoid.

Sit and think

In our modern society, there is a lot of appreciation for people who act quickly. But in Greek and Roman times, procrastination and waiting was properly honored. Wise leaders were able to sit and think the whole day. They waited and collected as much information as possible. Only when it was absolutely necessary did they spring into action.

  • More reasons why procrastinating every now and then is okay can be found in Issue 25.

Text Fleur Baxmeier Photography ©Marcel/Stocksy United

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