Why Procrastination is Healthy

Yes, you read it correctly. For some, procrastination is not only natural, but also healthy.

Some individuals naturally strive in an atmosphere of drama and urgency, even crisis. They are at their best in the eleventh hour, when they can think on their feet and fly by the seat of their pants. These persons naturally avoid finishing things far ahead of schedule…how boring is that?? They are either drawn to, or create an aura of excitement by pushing against the deadline. (I must stress that this is not procrastination out of laziness or irresponsibility, but by instinct.)

So my message to the instinctual procrastinators: let yourself off the hook. Procrastinate a little. However, as with everything, I have a few words of warning:

Do not let procrastination lead to poor output or missed deadlines. It is OK to work in the eleventh hour, but the project has to be completed by the twelfth hour. If you can identify with this popular quotation, “I love deadlines; I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by,” then you probably need to start making false deadlines. Trick yourself into completing tasks before the true due date while also creating the sense of urgency that you need.

If you work with instinctual procrastinators:

Give the natural procrastinator on your team a project and a deadline,and walk away. You may become very nervous when it is 3 days before the deadline and little progress has been made. But it is important that each person be accountable to the deadline and the result, not how he gets there (or if he completes the project days ahead of time or finishes within seconds of the buzzer).

If deadlines are missed, set false ones. If it is absolutely necessary that a project be completed on Friday, have the instinctual procrastinatorcomplete her portion by Wednesday. But, don’t be surprised if it lands on your desk at 11:59 Wednesday night. Just be clear about the deadline at the beginning of each undertaking.

Simply put, procrastination can be a debilitating stressor or a motivating factor, depending on your natural instincts. It is most important to trust you gut and stay accountable to the result.

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