The term efficient procrastination may seem oxymoronic, but there is a logic, and even an art form in delaying something until just the right moment. Procrastination as a concept gets a lot of bad press. The concept that the word implies is, ‘Why do something today when you can put it off until tomorrow?’ This is a question which smacks of laziness and inefficiency. It conjures up images of someone idling away their hours before scrambling in a blind panic to complete a project. Then making an eleventh hour university deadline with a submission that is scruffily presented, full of errors and destined for a low mark.
Procrastination does not need to be considered from this negative perspective. The term procrastinate refers to the process of replacing urgent tasks with tasks of lower priority. If organized correctly this is not a bad system to have in place. This is particularly true when delivering project work. The deadline on your calendar is avoidable. Even if you can manage a time extension, when the work is due it must be submitted. You may set yourself some personal deadlines, built around free evenings and weekends to ensure that you complete the task ahead of schedule, and procrastination may allow you to put this work off until closer to the ‘real’ deadline. There are some tactics that you can employ to ensure that the work you submit is of high quality.
The best strategy to ensure that this sort of procrastination is successful is to ensure that the lower priority tasks you choose to do are designed to work as part of the major task. If you are putting off work on a project, submission, or thesis, do not replace your workload with menial tasks like doing your laundry, or trying to clear a level on Angry Birds. Although these may be very tempting options, and may even allow you to feel as though you are doing something constructive with your time, they are unproductive forms of procrastination.
Instead you should opt to do something which will support the body of work that you have been tasked with. Reading is an excellent way of procrastinating. Particularly if what you read supports the knowledge and understanding that are required for the task. It may not feel as though you are actively working, but reading around a topic will enable you to produce more erudite scripts. Sub-editing text is another very effective procrastination technique. Tinkering with a document is less onerous than trying to produce work from scratch, but it will ensure that the standard of the work you submit is of a higher level. It can also help to iron out minor flaws and remove mistakes that you may otherwise have missed.
It is also important to remember that early submission of work is not always a good thing. Once you have reached a prerequisite word count it may be tempting to click submit even though the deadline is some distance in the future. Delaying the submission will give you more time to ensure that the work you submit is as good as it can possibly be.
Deadlines are there for a reason and you should use all the time available to do further research, add extra appendices, and develop your work as fully as you possibly can. It is worth remembering that the person marking your work will have deadlines of their own and if you hand in work too early they will have the time to pour over it more rigorously, which may not be a good thing.
For efficient procrastination the key is to make sure that the lower order tasks you choose will contribute towards the high priority task you are putting off.