Productive Procrastination: How to Avoid Falling Into the Trap - Deepstash
Productive Procrastination: How to Avoid Falling Into the Trap

Productive Procrastination: How to Avoid Falling Into the Trap


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Productive Procrastination: How to Avoid Falling Into the Trap

Productive Procrastination

Productive procrastination is when you’re busy, yet you’re still procrastinating on your most important tasks. 

For example:

You work 8 -10h workdays, you’re always busy, and you feel that you’re productive. But you’re not as productive as you think. Is your big project done? Is it even moving in any direction? If the answer is “not exactly”, you’re presumably a victim of productive procrastination. 

By keeping yourself busy with a lot of to-do’s, you distract yourself from doing the work. The work that’s important and impactful still remains untouched. 


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Productive procrastination is when you’re efficient and accomplish everything (except for the most important things).

For example: When having a hard project to crack, you may find yourself doing:

  • laundry
  • the dishes
  • cleaning the house
  • washing your car
  • organizing files on the computer
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • cooking.

You actually worked and achieved something.  Procrastinating doesn’t have to mean “doing nothing”. You can still do low-level, unimportant stuff. 

Productive procrastinators are great workers. They are able to do a lot of work, provided it is not the one they should be doing at the moment.


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If You Can’t Make It Great, At Least Make It

Time blocking is a great way to procrastinate in a productive way.  You can take a few moments to plan your day if you don’t feel like starting that big project.  It will keep you on track for the rest of the day.

The productive procrastination technique focuses on a specific worldview: If you can’t make it great, at least make it.  This approach doesn't perceive procrastination as the opposite of productivity. 

Even if you’re not working on the task you set out to do, you’re still making progress on eliminating slices of your productivity pie.


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Before you know it, you are working on tasks that distract you from what you should be doing. You’re busy and you’re getting a lot of tasks done. You feel good about yourself.  In reality, you’re actually killing your productivity levels. 

If you are close to falling into this trap:

  • Don’t use busyness to protect yourself from doing the things that you should. This way you fail to reach your dreams.
  • Hard work doesn’t equal success. It can be its component if you work hard on the right tasks and activities. Think about it. If hard work equaled success, all construction workers would be millionaires


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What’s the Trap About?

When you procrastinate in the usual way, you almost always realize it. You hardly ever realize when you fall into the trap of productive procrastination.   

Think about those days when you: answer a lot of emails, spend time on social media, or do other random to-do’s. You feel very productive. Your brain rewards you for this behavior. It produces dopamine when you’re working on a lot of different tasks. This, in turn, stimulates the repetition of this behavior. 

But productive procrastination is unproductive in the long run. 


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  • Learn to identify your most important activities: write them down.  If you have more than 5 tasks that you think are important, take a few minutes to identify your top 5. If you work on any other task before spending time on your identified top, you’re falling into the trap.
  • Tackle your most important activities first thing in the day. Don’t work on anything else before you finish your work on your most important activity.  Most people work on low to mid-value tasks first because it’s easier. As we go by during the day, our mental resources, like willpower and our ability to focus diminish. 


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“All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important”


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