Welcome to the next article in my Tuesday Time-Wasting Tip-Off series. This week, how to procrastinate properly.
Procrastinate Smarter Not Harder
I believe the reason that many people procrastinate so much is that they take too much time to "do nothing," but the time taken is in an unstructured, haphazard way and afterwards they permit themselves to feel terribly guilty about it.
Are you a bad procrastinator?
I do not mean, is your procrastination bad for you? I am asking, are you a good procrastinator? Do you procrastinate effectively to extract the maximum amount of non-productivity from your day in the most efficient way possible? Do you not work harder instead of smarter?
Rather than setting aside dedicated time to doing what you want, even if what you want is nothing at all, you avoid important tasks, but you do it poorly, sneaking idle minutes here and there to do nothing at all which is terribly inefficient.
Pretty soon the entire day has been wasted. Because you do not have time for you, you always feel like you need to sneak a few extra minutes in, rebelling against some imaginary disciplinarian that is constantly nagging you about things you have not done. But this micro-procrastination has a huge impact on everything else that you do, especially on those non-things that you want to do.
The greatest gains from procrastination are to be gained when you batch your procrastination up in to large blocks of time. With hours of procrastination at your disposal you can do nothing that you want, nap, stare out the window, watch television, or any of a dozen other unproductive non-activities.
Goof-off time, like all "intensely creative, deeply mental activities" needs to be done with the utmost concentration. Just like work, you want the environment to be just right, close the door if you have to, but make sure you push the world away from you to extract the most value from procrastinating. It is no good to sit down to enjoy doing nothing at all, only to be interrupted every five minutes with chores and micro tasks by someone else which you will quickly come to resent. Just because you appear to be doing nothing, does not mean you are. And just because you are doing nothing, does not mean you are available to do something for someone else.
If you were to sit and meditate, people would not interrupt you, or at least you and I would hope that they would not. Similarly, goof off time needs to be thought of in the same way. It is your "meditation" that enables you to procrastinate on procrastinating. The problem is that most people do not procrastinate properly, like everything they do, they sort of do it in a half-arsed fashion without any real zeal. They do not stretch their procrastination skills.
Not all of your time needs to be productive and fruitful, you need time to do "nothing at all" to recharge your creative energies, to gather your forces and rejoin the fray of life and work with renewed vigour.
But not all goof off activities need to be vacuous either.
Finding a goof off activity that is productive is incredibly easy, you just have to look a little deeper than idle web surfing, browsing Facebook or staring vacantly at the television.
For me, my goof off time usually consists of activities such as playing the piano, guitar, drawing art, writing, cooking, woodworking, tinkering in the workshop or conducting other semi-productive activities. I might not stretch my skills, I might not even produce anything worthwhile, but all of it helps me to find new opportunities for learning and earning without even realising it.
Secondly, there are ways to combine even the most non-productive goof off time with activities that have a huge positive benefit. For me, owning and using a treadmill desk to play World of Warcraft or other computer games, browsing the web or watching television has a huge positive impact on my life, my health, and my energy levels. There are other methods too, such as listening to audio books whilst playing video games that I would recommend to anyone.
Any activities that engage different parts of the brain or can be combined because they are two very different physical activities, such as driving and listening to an audio book, are achievements worth pursuing.