Should You Procrastinate More?
“Roughly 20 percent of adults report being chronic procrastinators,” says Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School. ”But while procrastination is a vice for productivity, I’ve learned — against my natural inclinations — that it’s a virtue for creativity.”
Grant adds that for years he suffered from “pre-crastination”—the urge to start a task immediately and finish it as soon as possible. But a few years ago, one of his most creative students questioned his habits, saying her best ideas came to her when she put things off. Later, as a professor at the University of Wisconsin, that student conducted research in which she asked people to come up with new business ideas. Some were randomly assigned to start right away; others were given five minutes to first play Minesweeper or solitaire. Independent raters scored all ideas for originality, and the procrastinators’ ideas were described as 28 percent more creative.
It wasn’t playing games that increased creativity; it was the act of putting off the task. It turns out that procrastinators engage in divergent thinking. Letting their minds wander, they are more apt to spot novel solutions or unexpected patterns.
Think this is counter-intuitive? Try delaying a creative task for a bit. You’ll be in good company. According to Grant, chronic procrastinators include Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Aaron Sorkin, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
We want to hear: If you are a pre-crastinator, what is the most difficult part of delaying a task? What happens when you do procrastinate? Do you ever surprise yourself with your creativity? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion.
3/23/2016 01:10:52 pm
I am, in general, a little skeptical about studies if what they find does not ring true. In this study, they equate waiting five minutes to procrastinating, which doesn't seem accurate. I think the time associated with procrastinating differs from task to task. Taking time to think about something, whether you are playing games or not, is not necessarily procrastinating. Waiting two days to start a project that is due in a month is probably not procrastinating, but waiting until two days before the deadline probably is.
3/24/2016 04:08:36 pm
Couldn't agree more Sharon. There is certainly a difference between procrastinating and taking time to clear our brain so that we are open to new, innovative solutions.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.