I don’t recommend procrastinating on your work until the last minute. But I do recommend using what I learned to improve your focus and increase your output so you have more time freedom to do the things you love.
In college, I was that student who pulled an all-nighter to write a 15-page research paper the night before it was due. And I always got an A. (Ok, fine. I only got A’s about 90% of the time. But I never scored lower than a B on a written essay.)
I am your classic procrastinating overachiever.
Case in point, right now. I wrote a different essay today, but it doesn’t feel quite right to publish it tonight. So here I am. Procrastinating with a different essay. And then, I started thinking about all the other times my procrastination led to above-average work.
Here’s what I realized:
I can’t ever shut my brain down, so I’m CONSTANTLY thinking or planning ahead. When I have a project, even when I’m not working on it, I tend to think about it frequently. I develop (and constantly revise) a game plan ahead of time, so when I do finally sit down to work on it, I already know exactly HOW and WHAT I want to do with it.
I’m able to power through it more quickly than if I started working without already knowing the direction I want to take. Because I procrastinated to the point of a time crunch, I now have rigid constraints to keep myself focused. Since I’m often doing this work late at night, there are less interruptions from email, social media, and my phone. My focus is dialed in and my output is 100x what it is on a normal day.
Don’t procrastinate. But try this framework if you want to improve your focus and increase your output.
🧠 Brainstorm ahead of time and let ideas percolate before you start working
🤹🏼 DO NOT MULTITASK
🧘🏻 But DO take short breaks to restore cognitive resources to keep your focus at maximum potential during working sessions
⏰ Set a hard deadline for yourself and STICK TO IT (Parkinson’s Law–shorter time frames lead to higher likelihood of completion)
✂️ Figure out what’s important – and eliminate what is not