Productive procrastination?

 By RaSeLaSeD - Il Pinguino:

Laundry, I love you (when I should be writing).

“Productive” and “procrastination” may seem like words that don’t belong in the same time zone, much less the same sentence, but actually purposeful procrastination lets me squeeze out more productivity than I could otherwise manage with my maxed-out brain cells and schedule.

Question: when does folding the laundry seem like a lot of fun?

Answer: when you should be working on your PhD reading lists.

Question: what makes scheduling school visits and signings a blast?

Answer: doing it instead of reading another 100 pages of Proust.

Question: who likes to rinse dirty cloth diapers?

Answer: Ashley, when it means she gets a five-minute break from grading papers.

Question: how do you enjoy grading student work?

Answer: by using it as a “treat” after harder labor, like reading literary criticism.

Question: when is it a good idea to stop working and play with Liam?

Answer: ALWAYS!

Okay, I think you get the idea. So the trick here is to schedule tasks so that when you take a “break” you are really doing something productive, just productive in a different way. I also keep a running list of acceptable procrastination tasks that I can do for 15-20 minutes if I need a change of pace. At home, these include quick cleaning jobs or reading a book with Liam. I can also take a 15-minute walk (exercise is way better than a sugary snack for boosting energy levels in my mid-day slump), answer an email, or write a blog post.

It’s probably a sign of my uber-dorkiness, but this strategy makes me see folding laundry or grading essays as a treat or a break. For me, working this way keeps me from resenting all the little tasks since they “rescue” me from other brain-busting work for a bit. 

How to keep the procrastination from taking over your productivity? Set a time limit for the break from your main task so that you don’t stay gone too long.


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