An old Army buddy of mine once joked that procrastination is like masturbation, it feels good until you realize you just screwed yourself. Rather than postponing things, just get it done. Action – as he would say – is the best cure for anxiety. But then there are those that believe that if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute. Waiting until the night of the deadline, panicking about it, and throwing something together right at the end can – at times – yield surprisingly adequate results. In reality though, the former option is not always feasible and the latter is not necessarily ideal.
Regardless, the world around us keeps piling on to our to-do lists and we place a significant amount of pressure on ourselves to meet these endless demands. This means that there is always something that we should be doing that we are not, which makes us feel perpetually guilty. So what can we do?
Well, allow me to advocate in favor of procrastinating. It would be a great shame if you are only going about your days efficiently checking off all of the things on your to-do list, without experiencing any sense of wonder or moments that make you feel free. To this end, procrastination can help us slow down and be more mindful, but here is the thing: When you take a moment to slow down, don’t feel guilty about it. Fully indulge in it.
And here is the justification: Often times, we procrastinate (myself included) because there is a challenging task before us. In psychology, there is a term called compensatory conviction, which is the phenomenon that when you are faced with a difficulty or uncertainty, you find great interest and curiosity in things other than the main task at hand (e.g. when you have a paper due, but you end up binge watching a documentary about Hitler on Netflix instead).
Embrace these opportunities in disguise that tickle your curiosity. While some might say compensatory conviction wrongfully glorifies procrastination, I would argue that it is something that enables us to feel a fleeting moment of happiness, to feel truly interested in something, and perhaps – just maybe – you will even find inspiration in these unexpected moments, which can give you the motivation to move forward with something on your to-do list. So slow down I say, and procrastinate!
Mark Kawakami, Assistant Professor Faculty of Law