The Pros of Procrastination

October 31, 2022
3 min read

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do day after tomorrow just as well,”

Mark Twain

I have known for a while that my time was coming up to contribute to the SBA blog, a few different subjects have been dancing in my mind, but it wasn’t until the deadline was around the corner that the light bulb went on, this time shining brighter than ever…I will write about procrastination, and its many benefits, specifically when it comes to heightening creativity.

As mentioned in the book “Originals”, in ancient Egypt procrastination was described with two different words. One denoted laziness to indicate the vice of sloth and the other meant waiting for the right time as in the virtue of prudence. I choose to focus on the latter.

When procrastination is confused with laziness, which is when you don't want to do anything or when you do something instead of what you should be doing, it's easy to see it as a bad thing.

Procrastination isn’t just not bad. It’s the most underrated modern career skill out there.

When it comes to creativity, procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, learn and reflect on setbacks, and then incorporate those lessons into your final work. It’s only when you’re told that you’re going to be working on a problem, and you start procrastinating, but the task is still active in the back of your mind that you start to “incubate.”

While the conscious part of the mind is resting or focused on something else, the subconscious part of the mind is working overtime to consolidate information and solve problems. The creative process can take time and is quite flexible. It’s healthy to take some time off and let your mind wander, looking for divergent, uncanny ideas to solve your special problem. Those who allow an appropriate amount of time to examine the task they are assigned are more creative than those who completed the task immediately.

Procrastination can lead you down a different path entirely; Albert Einstein procrastinated his work at the patent office by coming up with the theory of relativity. Isaac Asimov procrastinated his studies in chemistry by writing. The two founders of Yahoo, Jerry Yang and David Filo, went on sabbatical — or so the story goes — and one said to the other, ‘’Hey, we’ve got some time. Let’s try to categorize the Internet.” That's legendary procrastination!

The modern world is no place for the over prepared and meticulously organized. The world you think you are preparing for will have changed into something else long before you are finished preparing for it. Procrastination trains you to know only what you need to know only for the time you need to know it.

Procrastination creates artificial pressure which trains you to deal with real pressure during your career. Every good job and most of the decent ones are performed under pressure. Procrastinators become familiar with pressure. They learn to expect its presence and treat it as just another variable to consider. Procrastinators learn to control panic. They are rarely surprised and develop improvisational skills that could be the envy of any actor.

The procrastinator has the advantage of a compressed time schedule and this means they have no choice but to prioritize. The procrastinator is forced to focus on only the most important parts of any subject. The procrastinating brain doesn’t have to make room for the unimportant stuff and can use its full capacity to learn all the really necessary parts more completely. 

The ability to pick apart a problem and find its most important parts is a crucial modern career skill.

And lest you fear you are arriving late to the procrastination bandwagon, relax. That’s the great thing about procrastination, whatever time you have remaining is the exact amount of time you need.

© 2024 Soubriet Byrne & Associates, Inc.