Studies Suggest People Who Procrastinate May Be Onto Something

You should read this now, or later ...

You may remember those all-nighters in school, scrambling to get a paper done that's due the very next day. Sure, you had a month to work on it, but there were more important things to do — like cleaning your room a billion times, making that spreadsheet of all your favorite restaurants you visited in the past year, combing your dog's hair, organizing your record collection alphabetically. Everything was more important than that assignment. 

If this sounds like something you've done, then you might just be a world-class procrastinator. But while you may kick yourself for putting things off until the last minute, don't be too quick to judge your procrastination tendencies as a flaw. There are some studies that suggest there are benefits to procrastinating. 

That's right. If you procrastinate, you may just be doing things right

To learn the ways procrastination can actually help you be a better person, keep reading. But do it now. Not tomorrow. Or maybe do it tomorrow. Whatever works for you. 

1. You're not letting the "universe manipulate you."

Lou Marinoff, the author of Plato, Not Prozac!, a book which encourages a philosophical approach to modern pressures, says procrastination and idleness fit in the Eastern philosophies of action and inaction, and how they work together. 

He says that the right timing of things for procrastinators can end up being better compared to those "do-ers" who spend a lot of time and energy trying to force things. Instead of manipulating the situation, procrastinators go with the flow.

2. You actually get other smaller tasks done.

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Dr. Alice Boyes wrote an article in Psychology Today that explained how many of us find other smaller tasks we've been putting off more appealing when we're faced with a big, looming one. When you decide to do those first, the benefits don't just end at checking those off your to-do list. Chances are, completing them will give you an energy boost and the confidence to tackle that larger project you've been putting off.

3. You end up happier when you "manage delays."

Author, university of San Diego professor, and procrastinator Frank Partnoy explains in his book Wait: The Art and Science of Delay that waiting to the last minute to make a decision can actually make you happier. He told Smithsonian magazine that waiting until the last minute gives you more time to process information. His study also found that those who waited to apologize had more of an impact on those they were apologizing to.

4. You end up learning new things.

A New York Times article points to John Perry, a philosopher at Stanford, who explained procrastinators very rarely do nothing. Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University, calls this this "Nothing Alternative." This means students would rather learn anything than sit and be bored. When it comes to general active procrastinators, they can get other tasks done or learn new skills, even if they're not doing their "top" priority.

5. You may experience less stress.

Many of the studies on the benefits of procrastination suggest that procrastination is a "state of mind" that can be beneficial. This is because those who don't procrastinate often impose deadlines on themselves about things they "have" to get done. This often results in them never having a time when they don't have something to do. Conversely, procrastinators take a more relaxed approach and are able to see deadlines and what has to get done more clearly.

6. Procrastination leads to effective action.

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In a study published by the British Psychological Society, author Anna Abramowski points out that procrastination can increase an individual's performance because "the imminent deadline creates excitement and pressure that elicit peak performance." Instead of being negatively affected by stress, people can actually use it as motivator, producing better work in a shorter amount of time.


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