A Paradoxical Finding: Procrastination Can Be a Good Thing

20% of adults report being chronic procrastinators. 80% of college students procrastinate, leading to last minute stress and sleep deprivation. With a new perspective, Adam Grant says that procrastination does decrease productivity, however, procrastination increases creativity (Step1: Procrastinate, New York Times, January 17, 2016, Adam Grant). In taking a casual survey, Jihae Shin found that supervisors rated procrastinators higher for creativity. Later, Professor Shin found that there was a 28% increase in creativity for procrastinators.
The increase in new ideas occurs when a procrastinator first postpones a task. Shin says that procrastination encourages divergent thinking. In the 1920’s, psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people had a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. Thus, completing a task brings the creative process to a halt. A procrastinator’s creativity frequently blossoms because of their talent for postponing tasks. Famous procrastinators include Bill Clinton, Adam Sorkin, Steve Jobs, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many others. I plead the fifth.
Procrastination doesn’t help if you wait until the absolute time limit. Anxiety can get too intense and then creativity is dimmed. Therefore, you suffer because you don’t have the time to be creative. So try putting off a task. Remember, creativity is greatest right after the task is first postponed. Take a few days to think and see where your thoughts go. Return to unfinished sentences, paragraphs, and projects a few days later. You may discover that you are full of ideas that improve your writing or project design. Remember that Adam Sorkin calls procrastination “thinking”. By the way, I carried this newspaper clipping around since January 17th… C’mon, really, I was thinking!

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