20th September, 2017

Yes – I’m talking to you, the person simultaneously reading this whilst hoovering their immaculate keyboard and arranging pens by ‘mood’ (of course, it is totally reasonable to have an ‘angry and frustrated’ pen).  However, I know that you really should be doing something else.  Like client work, or sorting out your receipts for your tax return, or something else important like that.  I’ve got your number, because the truth is we’ve all been there, no matter how efficient and productive we are generally on a day to day basis.

As a freelance worker, procrastination has a direct impact on the amount of money we take home – we work in ‘billable hours’, meaning that we only get paid when we are actively working for a particular individual, not when we are cleaning the kitchen cupboards rather than blog writing, or googling ‘what would win in a fight, a shark or an anaconda?’

However, procrastination isn’t always frowned upon.  Some thought leaders positively embrace it, including former Investment Banker turned University Professor Frank Partnoy, author of “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay”[1].  Partnoy claims that when faced with a decision, we should assess how long we have to make it and then wait until the last possible moment to take action if we want to lead happier lives.  Partnoy also differentiates between ‘passive’ and ‘active’ procrastination – the first of which involves just sitting around and doing nothing (which can be a tempting option, on occasion!), whereas ‘active’ procrastination occurs when you are aware that you are avoiding a particular task, but are doing something else that you deem to be a valuable activity instead.

As well as leading happier lives, evidence also suggests that serial procrastinators tend to be more creative; Research carried out by the University of Wisconsin looked at how often staff in two separate companies procrastinated, and then asked their bosses to rate how ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ they were.  The evidence suggested that there was a positive correlation between the amount of time spent procrastinating and staff being considered more creative or innovative than their peers[2] - great news for all the procrastinators out there. 

So even though time spent hoovering your keyboard may, at first, seem like wasted time, I’m here to recommend that you embrace a good bit of procrastination every now and then.  As long as your work is completed to your exacting standards by the deadline set, it can’t hurt to let you mind wander for a few minutes!  Indeed, if creativity and innovation go hand in hand with a good bit of procrastination, you’ll find me in the kitchen, knocking up some meatballs…

[1] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-procrastination-is-good-for-you-2102008/

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/procrastination-makes-you-more-creative-research-says-a6923626.html

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