The Art of Procrastination
Procrastination can affect a lot of people in life, some are more prone to it than others, however is it a bad thing? Let’s look at how procrastination may help you in your life.
There are times in some of our lives where we have something important to be doing, such as an important deadline at work or something around the house, but we just can’t get the motivation to get things done.
Most people see this type of procrastination as something terrible, an illness that must be eradicated. However, there’s an interesting TED talk by Adam Grant (https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_the_surprising_habits_of_original_thinkers) around original thinking and how procrastination may actually benefit us, called “The surprising habits of original thinkers”. Here are a couple of the points he brings up.
Increasing creativity, by reducing productivity
This sounds like a crazy concept, however some of the greatest achievements in history have been because someone procrastinated. Vincent Van Gogh for example took a 16 year break between starting and finishing painting the Mona Lisa because he thought it was terrible. Google and Facebook waited for other companies to try thing first and improve on them.
Now, I am not suggesting you take 16 years to finish that document or the washing up (that would be gross), but I am saying that sometimes it’s good to walk away from what you are currently working on and go do something different. Then, at a point further down the line, you go back to that original piece of work and see if looking at it with fresh eyes helps kick start some ideas.
Balancing work and play
Now balancing this kind of procrastination is difficult, because if you procrastinate too much it is very rare that anything will get done at all (let’s just forget about Vincent here), but if you don’t do it enough it won’t have as much of an effect, and he shows a graph on this:
As you can see, there is a sweet spot where you get the maximum amount of creativity. Hitting this can be difficult, and it’s not as simple as putting a timer on this. Adam goes on to explain that even Martin Luther King left his speech to the last minute, and improvised the famous line “I have a dream.”.
So next time you have a big task or something you need to complete, don’t forget that walking away and giving your mind a break, or thinking on your feet a bit more, may in fact increase your creativity and help you be more original.
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