When one is productive, it implies that they are breezing through their tasks. However, when one is a productive procrastinator, they may be busy, but they are not necessarily doing the tasks that they need to focus on or will have the most impact. For example, if you are writing a novel, the act of writing is your biggest task, but you may be focusing on other details such as designing your ideal workspace or creating a morning routine that will increase your productivity.
If you fear that you may be a productive procrastinator, here’s how to turn it around:
List three priorities for the day
It seems especially tempting to procrastinate when you have a big deadline coming up. When you have a paper due, it suddenly feels more immediate that you fold your laundry or do the dishes. Then, at the last minute, you sit down for a cram session. In this case, procrastinating acts like a defense mechanism: if you fail to produce high-quality output, you can blame it on the fact that you crammed. To get out of this bad habit, list your top priorities for the day and stick to them. Every time you feel the urge to do something else, and you will, revisit your priorities. Ask yourself if that new task you just remembered is more important than your listed priorities. If it is, then it should replace your other priority and if it isn’t, work on it later.
Consolidate all your lists
It is easy to look and feel busy when you have so many lists everywhere. You could have a to-do list on your computer, a separate one on your planner, and yet another written down on your notepad. It feels like you are cycling through an endless list of to-do’s, which does not help your mental health. Having so many lists also makes it harder for your brain to focus on your priorities. When you feel stressed, you turn to one list and tick a few things off, not realizing that your other list may have more urgent and important matters that need your attention.
This may be easier said than done, but you need this the most when you feel overly busy. Take a five-minute break to drink a glass of water and to apply moisturizer for dry skin. Focus on these tasks and avoid multitasking. Yes, that means no five-minute YouTube video or Spotify song playing in the background. This will help you lower your stress levels by a little bit, and it will help remind you of what your main focus should be for the day.
If you love what you have to do, it will be easier to get started doing it. If you don’t love it, you can find a lot of reasons not to do it. However, there is also the opportunity cost to consider. Maybe you shouldn’t do it after all because your time is better spent doing something else. In this case, ask yourself if you can delegate the task. This removes the task from your list of pending items, and it will have some progress even if you don’t do it yourself. It will literally be a load off your shoulders.
You can never take back the time you’ve used procrastinating, even if you were doing so productively. Focus on the most important tasks at hand to feel more fulfilled at the end of the day.