A positive view of procrastination

If you have ever organized your wardrobe and all your outfits per color, ranked your computer files by alphabetical order, or searched for one hour for information to explain why you cannot sneeze with your eyes open — all while you had something far more important to do — you are probably as familiar as I am with the concept of procrastination.

Celebrated in France and some other countries on March 25th, “procrastination” means putting everything off until tomorrow or postpone something you might easily do at the moment. The procrastinator is, thus, the person who has a duty and hears the deadline, but will be waiting until the last moment to execute it.

I myself am a huge procrastinor. I’m always the person in a group who remains mindful of the deadline for a task, knowing there’s no chance I’ll work on it before the last minute. And although a lot of people associate procrastination with laziness, it’s not about that. Many studies have actually proved that procrastination is linked to a lack of self-confidence, lack of motivation, stress, avoidance of an unpleasant job or underestimation of the timing. Indeed, postponing a task by doing something more pleasant is a way to forget about it and all the complications around it. But in a paradoxical way, the procrastinator is also stressed by not doing his task, and feels guilty. To forget the stress and the guilt, he falls deeper into the procrastination by watching Netflix or suddenly becoming a neat freak.

In my opinion, procrastination is what I need to be productive. Being close to the deadline operates as a sort of adrenaline for me, and makes me call the best out of myself. All the stress I accumulate kind of boils into me until the last moment where it explodes and makes me execute in an efficient way the job I was postponing. Something that would have taken me five hours on a normal day, will take me thirty minutes under stress with the “last-minute” incentive.

So, to the people who say it’s just laziness, I would like to answer: It can be related to many things, like a form of self-protection, self-control, or even productivity. But it’s alright. It’s not always negative, so long as it works. Everybody procrastinates about something, and that’s human. And it’s not for nothing that in some countries we have a day to “celebrate” procrastination and not fight against it. Procrastination is also a way to enjoy the present moment and take some time for yourself, instead of doing the thing you still have plenty of time to do.

And yes, even if it often puts me into trouble, due to the fear of not achieving my task, in the end it always works. I’m not saying I shouldn’t find a way to better organize myself… I should. But I will do it tomorrow.

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