Why Do We Procrastinate? And How To Do It Effectively.


 

Do you find yourself putting off tasks you’d rather not do? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, one in five American adults considers themselves a chronic procrastinator — which is rough, since procrastinators get a lot flack about being “lazy,” “undisciplined” or “unreliable,” three traits you don’t want to be known for in business.

 

So, why do so many people continue to procrastinate? There’s been a lot of research done, and it seems to come down to the trade-off between instant vs. delayed gratification while maintaining your comfort zone. Basically, humans seem to be wired to enjoy the here and now. It requires some real work to endure discomfort today for your future reward, and a lot of us find that difficult to do.

 

Now, there is no shortage of advice on how to stop procrastinating — “Make a list of daily tasks … break big projects down into smaller ones ... stop worrying about failing ... don’t be such a perfectionist” are just some of the advice that lifehack.org gives. But what exactly is procrastinating and does it have to be a bad thing?

 

John Perry, a professor at Stanford University, says procrastination is simply “not doing what you’re suppose to be doing,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not being productive. He suggests that procrastination is an artform and even dawdling folks can have the reputations of being go-getters and reliable individuals.

 

In his book The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing, Perry shares his insight on how to procrastinate productively. He suggests that when you’re putting off a task — for example, mowing the lawn before it rains — you should fill that time with another productive task, such as doing the laundry. You’ll probably end up mowing the lawn at the last minute, but you also got another household chore done.

 

(As an added bonus, waiting until the last minute puts a hard-and-fast time limit on a task. Parkinson's law the idea that work expands to fill the time available for its completion could also argue that waiting till the last minute is a good way to not waste time on tasks that don’t require it.)

 

Perry says task triage is an important part of productive procrastination. Many people are perfectionists and want to do the best on every job they are given. But, in all honesty, most of your daily tasks may not require “your best” and your time is limited. So, next time you’re given a task, take some time to decide how important it is and how much attention and time it requires. This will help you prioritize and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

 

Perry also suggests hacking your to-do list by adding a few easy tasks to your day so you can cross them off early. Perhaps turning off the alarm, getting dressed and making coffee are the first three things you put on your list of things to do. No one has to see it, and you might get an extra kick of productivity by crossing off things so early. He also suggests putting a big but not important task at the top of your list — that way, you’ll put it off and get other things done instead.

 

Do you have any tips on ways to use procrastination to your advantage? Leave a comment and share them with us!

5 phrases usually used incorrectly


 

In today's society, there are turns of phrase that have been passed down for so long that we don't know what they originally referred to and, as such, we're saying them incorrectly. For example, "for all intensive purposes" is incorrect — what you mean to say is "for all intents and purposes," a reference to 1500s English law, which used the phrase "to all intents, constructions and purposes" to mean "officially" or "effectively."

 

When we’re speaking, many of these words blend in with each other, so incorrect words easily go unnoticed. But when writing, the mistakes stand out and weaken your credibility. Watch out for these common phrases, and make sure you’re using the right words.

 

1) First-come, first-serve. If you're trying to suggest that you're going to help people in the order in which they have arrived, you should say, “First-come, first-served.” Otherwise, you're suggesting that the first person in the door will be serving the rest.

 

2) I could care less. To indicate that you don’t care at all, you should say, “I couldn’t care less.” By saying you “could” care less, you are suggesting that the subject actually is somewhat important to you.

 

3) Piece of mind. I appreciate that you're willing to give me a part of your brain, but honestly, I'd rather have “peace” of mind as you put my concerns to rest.

 

4) One in the same. Literally, this would mean that "one" is inside the same thing as itself. You probably mean "one and the same," meaning the same thing, or the same person.

 

5) By in large. This phrase was originally a nautical term meaning "in general." To use it correctly, you'll need to say "by and large," alright, skipper?