How to Procrastinate Efficiently

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I’m writing this essay for school on Beauty and the Beast and how it relates to our humanity or something English Criticism-y like that. I’m kind of frustrated with myself right now because it’s due on Friday and I have very little essay to show for it.

I realize that Friday is days away but I know myself. I’m a procrastinator. I have to come up with these little schemes to trick myself into doing the work but making it feel like I’m leaving it to the last minute.

Here is how I do it: deal with the basic framework ASAP and fill in the details later. What this means is that if I have an essay due on Friday, I know that I need to find my quotes and have an idea of my thesis statement by now (Sunday night). As long as I have the structure, I know that I need to have a good chunk of a rough draft written by Wednesday night and Thursday night will be devoted to editing and citations.

See, this way it totally feels like I’m leaving everything to the last minute, but I’m really not. I just get the hard stuff out of the way first.

I’ve learned to do this in other areas of my life too. Like emails. If I get an email, I either try to respond to it right away or I flag it or I flag it and stash it in one of my fancy labelled folders. It’s a rule. Now, a few emails do get missed occasionally, but the thing with emails is that if I don’t deal with them right away, they get lost in the abyss of my inbox. That’s pretty much the kiss of death.

The reason I’m talking about all of this is because I’ve been noticing something weirdly paradoxical happening to me lately. The busier I get, the more I get done.

It’s like this quote:

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

 

I don’t know who said this, but I do know that it is becoming very true for me right now.

Here’s the thing, though: there are a couple types of busy and they are not the same. One is “draining busy” and the other one is “empowering busy.” I’ve learned that your efficiency level usually goes up in relation to how many “empowering busy” things you are doing verses the “draining busy” things in your schedule.

Draining busy things are tasks that you usually have to do, but don’t want to. For me this is often administrative stuff. Usually scheduling, paperwork, and emails fall into this category, which is why I have to put this whole system in place that includes colourful flags and organized chaos. If my whole entire day includes, say, emailing people (which happens occasionally) then I feel exhausted. I get less work done overall because it takes focused effort to sit down and email.

BUT a day filled with tasks like brainstorming, writing (articles or blogs or some kinds of essays- not email), or general tasks that require me to actively create is empowering to me. My schedule could be bursting apart and I’d get way more accomplished and still feel way more energized at the end of the day than if I’d spent the same amount of hours writing emails or figuring out appointments.

The trick is to figure out what kinds of tasks fall into which of the two categories for you and, armed with that knowledge, attempt to integrate more “empowering busy” tasks to either replace or counteract the “draining busy” tasks.

If, for example, I have a day of “draining busy” stuff, I know that the next day I’ll need to incorporate more “empowering busy” stuff so I don’t crash and burn.

I’m definitely not saying that I do this perfectly, but I’m figuring it out slowly. It is kind of like a puzzle. I’m understanding how to reverse engineer and strategize in order to make all of the pieces fit together in the most efficient way for myself.

 

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