Creative Procrastination Tactics That Actually Work

Creative Procrastination Tactics That Actually Work
Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

We've all been there - you have an important task or project looming, but instead of buckling down and getting it done, you find yourself aimlessly scrolling social media, reorganising your sock drawer, or binge-watching Netflix. Procrastination is a productivity killer, but what if I told you there's a way to procrastinate that can actually boost your creativity and output? Enter: creative procrastination.

Creative procrastination is all about channeling that procrastination energy into productive tasks that still allow your mind to wander and recharge before tackling the big thing you've been putting off. It's a way to trick your brain into thinking you're slacking off when you're actually being productive in other areas of your life. Sound too good to be true? Read on for some creative procrastination tactics that actually work.

Tactic #1: Do the Little Things

Instead of diving headfirst into that daunting project, spend some time checking off the little tasks and chores you've been neglecting. To get started, make a list of 5-10 quick to-dos that can be knocked out in 5-10 minutes each. Things like:

  • Unloading the dishwasher
  • Replying to emails
  • Paying a couple bills online
  • Tidying up your workspace

Crossing these little productive wins off your list provides a sense of accomplishment and momentum to propel you into tackling that bigger task. Plus, you're getting sh!t done instead of just putting it off entirely.

Tactic #2: Get Creative (Literally)

One of the best ways to procrastinate creatively is to...get creative! Spend some time on a hobby or artistic pursuit that energises you. Here are some ideas:

  • Do some creative writing (journaling, short stories, poetry)
  • Doodle or sketch
  • Play an instrument or sing
  • Do crafting or DIY projects around the house
  • Take some photos and edit them

The idea is to engage the creative side of your brain in a low-pressure way before channeling that creative flow into your work. You'll be amazed at the fresh ideas and inspiration that come when you've given your mind a chance to play.

Tactic #3: Learn Something New

Feeding your brain with new knowledge and skills is an incredibly productive way to procrastinate. Pick a topic you're interested in or an area you'd like to improve, and spend some time learning about it through:

  • Reading books/articles
  • Watching tutorials or taking an online course
  • Listening to podcasts or audiobooks
  • Practicing a new skill (coding, design, language learning, etc.)

Not only does this satisfy your urge to procrastinate, but you're actively expanding your knowledge and becoming a more well-rounded person. Who knows, you may even pick up insights that help with whatever you're procrastinating on in the first place!

Tactic #4: Get Physical

When you're stuck in a cycle of procrastination, sometimes the best thing is to get out of your head and into your body. Physical activity boosts endorphins, improves focus and clears your mind. Try:

  • Going for a walk or run outside
  • Doing a yoga flow or stretching routine
  • Hitting the gym for a workout
  • Playing a sport (basketball, tennis, etc.)
  • Gardening or doing yardwork

The key is to move your body in a way that feels good and allows your mind to reset. You'll come back to your work feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to be productive.

Tactic #5: Batch Process Life Stuff

Chances are, there are a bunch of miscellaneous life tasks and errands you've been putting off - making dinner, grocery shopping, cleaning, scheduling appointments, etc. Instead of procrastinating in an unproductive way, batch all those tasks together and crank through them.

Not only will you get a whole bunch of nagging to-dos off your plate, but doing these sorts of mindless tasks can be the perfect way to let your subconscious work through problems and creative blocks related to the thing you're procrastinating on. Some of your best ideas may come while you're elbow-deep in dishwater!

Tactic #6: Embrace Controlled Distractions

Sometimes we procrastinate because we simply need a break to recharge our mental batteries. The problem is when those little distractions spiral into hours or days of unproductive procrastination. To avoid that, try scheduling short bursts of "controlled distractions" into your day.

For example, you could:

  • Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and allow yourself to browse social media, read the news, play a game, etc. When the timer goes off, it's back to work.
  • Use apps and browser extensions that block distracting websites during certain hours, but keep them open during scheduled breaks.
  • Make a playlist of videos, podcasts or shows to enjoy during timed distraction periods.

The key is being intentional about when and how long you're allowing yourself to be distracted. That way, you get the mental break you need without completely derailing your productivity.

In the end, procrastination is often a matter of perspective. By reframing procrastination as an opportunity to be creative and productive in other areas of life, you can satisfy your urge to slack off while still making progress and feeling accomplished. The next time you catch yourself procrastinating, try out one of these creative tactics and see if it doesn't reignite your motivation and creativity. You've got this!