Procrastination: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

anna-headshotBlogger: Anna Knutson

Hello everyone, my name is Anna and I’m a procrastinator.

Hi Anna.

We all know procrastination is bad; if you have time to do it now, do it! Putting it off prolongs suffering, multiplies stress, and can result in poor work. It seems like the negatives associated with procrastination are always made especially obvious by parents, teachers, and bosses, while no one likes to admit that sometimes procrastination can be healthy. HEALTHY, you say?! Blasphemy.

But I’m here to tell you it’s true, and as a serial procrastinator, I can say that sometimes it really kicks me in the rear…but sometimes, it works out just fine. I’m not advocating procrastinating, especially if you are a planner; you need to do what works for you. But rest easy, my fellow procrastinators. Our delaying of necessary activities or dreaded projects might not be as bad as we’ve always been told.

1) Active procrastinators (like myself) often DO create better work under pressure. The key word here is “active.” If you’re not a procrastinator, don’t become one because you think your work will improve; it won’t. But if you do often find that you work better on tight deadlines, roll with it. I personally find it much easier to prioritize when I only have limited time. The important things get done well, first, and then I go back over the details. This cuts down on busy and unnecessary work.

2) Listen to your procrastination. Sometimes we procrastinate because we’re not fully convinced the idea we’re pursuing is the best one. Maybe your idea is totally bad, and that’s why you don’t want to work on it. Procrastination can allow time for a good idea to take root and flourish. Artists, marketing executives, and writers will all preach the notion that you can’t just force good ideas, and yet schools and businesses often insist that we do exactly that. Take some time, and let the idea come to you. You might find this to be far more productive.

3) As accountants, most of us subscribe to the notion that the harder and longer we work, the more we will get done, and the better the end product will be. There are countless studies out there to suggest this is actually horribly untrue. Sleepiness is a productivity killer. If you’re craving a break, take it. Go nap. Do something you like. Watch an episode on Netflix (or three). Yes, you’ll have less time to complete whatever task you should have been working on, but when you do tackle it, you’ll be much better equipped to handle it and any problems it throws at you.

4) Procrastination can let us plan ahead. When we jump in headfirst, we often don’t have a strategy to attack the task at hand. But taking some time before you start to think through the direction you want to go can be immensely helpful. You often think of problems before they arise, or recognize inefficiencies before you spend hours on pointless tasks.

Overall, the key is to do what works for you. Take some of these pieces, all of them, or none of them, but most importantly don’t feel guilty if you put something on the back burner for a little while to read a book or bake some cookies. It’s not the end of the world. It’ll get done.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a project due in 2 days that I should be working on…

About txcpa2b

The Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA) is a nonprofit, voluntary, professional organization representing Texas CPAs. TSCPA has 20 local chapters statewide and has 27,000 members. The Society is committed to serving the public interest with programs that advance the highest standards of ethics and practice within the CPA profession. TXCPA2B is a blog written by Texas students in pursuit of the CPA certificate. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily held by TSCPA or our members.
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