16 February 2018
We’ve all heard that the best way to achieve a goal is to get on with doing it! Equally, productivity techniques and books like ‘Eat That Frog’ encourage you to tackle the biggest, most daunting task at the start of the day instead of letting it linger. It’s a useful technique but is it always the best horse for every course?
Sometimes, letting our minds wander and work on something in the background can be incredibly useful. I listened to a TED Talk recently by psychologist Adam Grant. In the talk Grant discusses the theory of ‘original thinkers’. These people are non-conformists who don’t just have ideas, they actively champion them. They are the entrepreneurs and world-changers among us.
Within that, he talks about procrastination: The art of being distracted and leaving a job until the last minute. And pre-crastination: Starting a job immediately because the panic sets in too soon! Grant shares a research curve that shows the peak time for completing a task is in the middle of your timeline. Not completing the task when it’s set nor so close to the deadline that you run out of time.
Procrastinating can make us more creative
In fact, it is at these times when we are at our most creative: when you know what a task will involve but you’re not actively engaging with it. It’s just ticking along in the background.
This really resonated with me. I often find that when I am preparing for a talk or presentation, running through the content the night before is far more effective. Taking a look the day before or the morning of the event is never as successful. Having the evening to let the ideas settle and allow my brain to process it is invaluable.
It’s funny how procrastinating is seen as unproductive and a real negative when, in fact, we could come up with our very best ideas when we let our brains wander. So, come Monday morning when you’re getting back into the swing of things in the office, don’t beat yourself up about letting your mind wander a little here and there.