by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Embrace Procrastination -- and Thrive on It

Why sometimes you should give yourself permission to do nothing

I'm a highly skilled procrastinator.

Seriously, I'm brilliant at it. I can go entire days without doing anything of substance. When I first started freelancing, this bothered me a lot. After all, if you don't sit at your desk and work, you don't make money, right? And I don't know about you, but I like seeing dollar signs in my bank account.

So, of course, I was fighting it, trying to push myself to write even when I had nothing to say. The results were often painful. My content was boring. My message was stale and I was less than satisfied with what I had put out into the world. Then I found this quote by Virginia Woolf: "My mind works in idleness. To do nothing is often my most profitable way." It suddenly dawned on me that the days when I walk around the city doing very little are actually my most productive work days of the week.

Why? It's quite simple:

When I do nothing, I soak up new experiences, get fresh input, see new faces and hear new sounds. I experience life in a different way, so that when I'm back at my desk, the words flow effortlessly.

Naturally, you don't have to be a writer to experience the miracles of procrastination. Whether you're working a desk job from 9 to 5, returning to college to get a degree or painting for a living, procrastination can deliver gold to you, too.

When I worked for a corporate business, I did all my day's work at the very end of the day, procrastinating for the rest of the time. I didn't slack; I just knew that by having little time to doubt my work and myself, I'd deliver. Of course, I still beat myself up all day long, feeling idiotic for not just doing the work right then. But, the results were always top-notch because I was focused and therefore playing my A game. And that's what procrastination does for you: You think better and work more quickly -- most times.

And then there's the awesome side effects of procrastination: a clean apartment, an empty laundry bag and a full cupboard of healthful foods. For it is usually when we're procrastinating that we do the things we normally hate, right? And we do them with vigor and even excitement because they save us from that important work we just don't want to do just yet.

So, the next time you beat yourself up for doing everything but that one thing you're supposed to do, stop and give yourself a break. Soak in your surroundings, feel the vibe of your home, see the familiar faces of your co-workers or indulge in the often-mundane tasks of everyday life. Take as much time as you need. And when you are ready, you will get back to work and you might deliver on a whole new level.

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Woman to Woman: "Embrace Procrastination -- and Thrive on It"