The Hidden Superpowers of Procrastination

If you have some idea of what’s going on on the internet, chances are you know very well what the hell is procrastination. Now, if you have found yourself procrastinating often – and maybe you reading this is a part or a result of your procrastination – you might want to hear why it can be one of the most useful things you do with your time.

Maybe you just scrolled through a kilometer long post on 4chan about adding -ing to the end of movie titles, or unknowingly spent 3 hours on 9gag, giggling over memes, watching cat videos on Youtube or stalking your ex and the one who last commented on their new profile picture on Facebook. First, it all seems soooooo useless – just entertaining yourself -, but you know well these are not all the ways you procrastinate, and even having seen some cat videos can become beneficial at some point.

First thing one feels at the verge of procrastination is resistance. Stomach feels weird, will is low and spine weak. It’s close to feeling annoyed by the “workworkwork…” ad on spotify or someone reminding you of their advice. Motivation is the last word in your vocabulary and even the contents on the cereal box on the kitchen table fascinate you more.

Let’s say you have a paper to write – at school or work, same shit. Deadline is in a week, but you are an optimist and don’t know yourself so well, so you open up your MS Word and write the title, if even. Suddenly, as if by nature, you check your facebook, chat with someone, forget about what you were supposed to do. You try to pinch yourself in the arse when you remember you have a paper to write. You open the page again and stare in the emptiness. Your head feels gone, no concept of thought emerging from the gray matter in your scull. You have stopped thinking, and then you feel the need to wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean the whole flat – all of which you have postponed as well.

That is one of the most obvious superpowers: it cleans your home. Your paper has a title (yippeee!), your place is clean and you will have more clothes to wear – all thanks to procrastination.

Let’s assume the paper you have to write is for a project you were super fascinated about at the start – you even thought it’s something you could identify yourself with! The stakes are high, too high. As Ariely wrote in The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logicthat if the stakes are too high and there’s too much to lose, for example if the bonuses of CEOs were too massive, they were less productive. Hence you postpone writing it, either because you are subconsciously too scared to fuck it up, so you get stressed and lack creativity to even get it started; or you lost your enthusiasm after telling everyone about it – now you don’t really want to do it, but you have a reputation not to ruin so you still want to get this done, but deep down you despise this and yourself for talking about this.

The second superpower: It taught you a lesson not to talk so much about yourself.

Let’s take your paper even further. It’s a project related to something you have identified yourself with already for years and you love talking about it. Let’s say your results are fantastic and the thing you do is unique: you are a pioneer at that field. Big responsibility, right! And every time you try to work on it, you find yourself cleaning your room, watching TED talks, drawing cats or editing some video and barely get your stuff done on the last minute.

If it happens way too often that you procrastinate over your lifetime goals, your procrastination supermegapower is trying to work hard for your benefit. Pay attention to what is the connection between the things that enchant you the most while you are rather doing other things than the thing you think you love. Perhaps there’s a pattern you are not yet aware of, an interest of yours that hides in broad daylight, and emerges during procrastination-takeover-time. This little yet hard observance could show you the third, the megasuperpower:

Procrastination can reveal what do you really love.

It sets our priorities right. If the things we think we love, we actually hate doing, but love talking about, seeing what our conversations and actions revolve around when more automatic functions take over, can reveal our true calling. [It will also tell you that your room being clean is perhaps right now more relevant than you feel your career is, whether you acknowledge it or not .]

Whether you find that knowing your ex’s profile picture commenting “friend” is a pro at some field can become useful and getting compliments over how well you understand internet memes can flatter you, or not, all these details have an effect on your life. – To your favour or not depends on how well have you programmed your Facebook news feed.

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