In Defense of Procrastination

adam grant

Adam Grant

Some writers think procrastination is the same as being blocked. Some call procrastination thinking.

I’ve just watched a Ted Talk by Adam Grant called ‘Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers.’ He conducted a study which makes a strong case for the procrastination-as-thinking camp.

Grant is a self-professed ‘precrastinator’, a term I hadn’t heard before but I certainly recognise the type. You know the students who submit their work long before the due date, or the writers who send their stories away to competitions or publications almost before the ink is dry.

Grant’s study shows precrastinators are in such a hurry to complete their tasks they don’t give their minds time to come up with new, different and more creative ideas.

But if you’re a dire-hard committed procrastinator don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. If you never get around to writing that story, poem or novel it’s hard to see any originality and creativity.

Grant’s study shows that people who come up with more creative and original ideas-

  • allow ideas to simmer in their minds for a while before they do anything about them. This gives them time to come up with divergent ideas, to think in new ways, to make unexpected leaps.
  • generate more ideas – more bad ideas but also more good ones.
  • suffer the same doubts as anyone else, both self-doubt and doubts about the validity of their ideas, but they try to skip the self-doubt and use the idea-doubts to look for better options.
  • fear failure, too, but they fear failing to try more. They recognise that we regret the things we fail to do more than the things we do.

So next time you find yourself procrastinating it could just be that there’s a whole lot of simmering going on in the back of your mind.

And while you’re procrastinating why don’t you check out Grant’s Ted Talk. It’s funny and informative.

Let me know what you think.

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4 Responses to In Defense of Procrastination

  1. dianathrelfo says:

    I haven’t had a chance to check out Grant’s Ted Talk yet, Karen but the differentiation between procrastination and precrastination is most interesting. If I relate both terms to my habits, I guess I do a good deal of both. Nevertheless, when it comes to writing, the idea that I’m more of a precrastinator is rather appealing. And yes, I think I can safely say that is what I am – a precrastinator. Thank you for sharing.

  2. That’s interesting, Di. I’m a bit of both too. I wonder if everyone is.

  3. What an interesting idea! That actually explains a lot – especially in terms of ebbing and flowing with personal energies *and* creativity. The simmering – the subconscious striving – builds to a crescendo (mixing my metaphors a bit here!) and suddenly there’s action, implementation, and completion. Yes, I like this a lot 😀

    • Hi Joanna. It’s fascinating, isn’t it! It’s funny how the studies often show what we already instinctively feel. If only I had as much faith in my instincts as I do in scientific research. But I do love the meeting of these two aspects of life and you’re right – it actually explains a lot. cheers, Karen

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