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How to procrastinate more productively

How to waste time better. (Source: Getty)
Waste your time better. (Source: Getty)

Sometimes, projects at work can appear so mammothly big that just thinking about it induces panic or exhaustion.

So, we do other things instead, whether it be smaller tasks that are easier to tackle, stealing a few minutes to scroll through social media, or exchanging messages with friends.

But studies have shown that doing tasks unrelated to work can actually be good for employees – and, according to some recruitment and productivity experts, there are actually smart ways to ‘waste time’.

Hack your to-do list

According to The 25-Minute Meeting author and productivity expert Donna McGeorge, we usually procrastinate bigger projects by prioritising smaller tasks that are easier to tick off the to-do list.


If you’re guilty of procrastinating by doing other work, come at your to-do list another way, said McGeorge.

“One of the ways to overcome this is to split your to-do list into High Intensity and Low Intensity tasks,” she told Yahoo Finance.

Laptop screen covered by group of yellow adhesive notes
Sort your to-do list into two categories. (Source: Getty)

“High intensity requires more brainpower, concentration and focus and low-intensity tasks we can often do in autopilot. Do a high-intensity task first (preferably in the first two hours of the day) and then reward yourself with a bunch of low-intensity (or procrastination) tasks in the afternoon.”

Plan your procrastination

Recruitment firm Robert Half director Nicole Gorton said you can procrastinate more effectively by being more upfront with yourself about your time and how your day is laid out.

“There are times when procrastination can be employed productively if incorporated as part of a strong time-management strategy,” she said.

“In particular, you can make procrastination more productive if you can be honest about your time for maximum efficiency and plan around this. Procrastination may make sense or have minimal impact if you know you’ll perform better at another time of day,” Gorton added.

Echoing McGeorge’s sentiments, Gorton also recommended tackling your high-priority items in the morning if you know you’re sharpest at the beginning of the day.

That way, your after-lunch hours – where you know you’ll struggle more to process complex problems – can be for more mundane tasks, she said.

Be smart about your breaks

‘Procrastination’ comes in the form of breaks in-between your tasks or to-do items, Gorton added.

But you can utilise your procrastination time to actually solve work problems more creatively.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but taking breaks like going for a quick walk or sorting your inbox can help you get more done as solutions to complex problems often surface when we’re not intently focused on the issue,” she said.

Emails list on a laptop screen isolated on an desk, office background. 3d illustration
Do you kill time by clearing out your inbox? Managing your emails can help you with boosting productivity levels. (Source: Getty)

Other ways to be more productive by doing very little include resting, switching off, detaching from tech and taking a moment to cool off from high emotions, Gorton said last year.

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