When Procrastination Works, and When it Doesn’t

Mar 14 2021 · 4 min read

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided if it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. Procrastination can create amazing levels of productivity when used correctly. This, however, is not always the case.

Procrastination has accumulated a lot of negative sentiments over the years – yet I can attribute most of my success to it. Had I not procrastinated school work on Minecraft contraptions, I would not be as passionate and curious on automation and even programming. Procrastination has shaped me to think fast and critically (so that I can procrastinate even more).

Procrastination & Creativity – Indrosphere

As it turns out, a TED Talk by Tim Urban also showed that a lot of successful people also deal with procrastination. As I sigh with relief knowing that I’m not alone in the “Dark Playground”, I’ve come to accept procrastination with all of its power & quirks. Justifying the use of procrastination, I also stumbled by an essay from John Perry, discussing about Structured Procrastination.

Structured Procrastination is all about tricking yourself into being productive; Label your tasks by their importance and do the most important one first. If you don’t feel like doing the first one, then choose any other task inside of that list and continue being productive.

After using this method throughout my university and a half year of my working life, I can safely say that there are some benefits and also flaws in Structured Procrastination. I will be sharing this based on my experience and what I have read about.

Benefits of Structured Procrastination

Super Flexible Scheduling

Having a schedule is hard. It might seem structured and in order – until it collapses. I’ve always had a hard time readjusting my schedule whenever things don’t go to plan. It’s not the case with structured procrastination. With the ability to readjust things so quickly, you can get back to being productive in no time.

Unexpected Exploration

As Tim Urban explained it in his talk, you can go from working on a task to seeing India in Google Earth just because it looks cool. On the contrary, this means that we can have absurd yet interesting adventures. In Adam Grant’s TED Talk, he shows that original thinkers have an adequate level of procrastination. There’s a sweet spot between being proactive and procrastinating, and that’s where we should be in.

Flaws of Structured Procrastination

As good as it may sound, I have noticed areas where even structured procrastination falls a bit short. I will list what I think are the most significant ones.

No Sense of Time

One of the hardest problem that I struggle with Structured Procrastination is the sense of time. Everything works fine with a slight catch: deadlines. Without deadlines, everything suddenly stops, you don’t have the sense of when enough is enough. One of the biggest area this flaw has affected me is in my side projects; I keep on postponing projects and starting other projects when I come up with something new.

Remember Teamwork

You can’t say “Yeah I’ll do it last minute” in a teamwork environment. Please remember that the commitment is shared between all of your teammates, not yourself. There will be times where you need to stay on a fixed schedule, and that will be pretty difficult.


With that said, I’m still using structured procrastination with a few tweaks:

  • Break down tasks into smaller, bite sized actionable items.
  • Set a time & duration on each of the tasks, so you can keep your sense of time.
  • Make time to arrange the schedule at every start/end of the day.
  • Freely move the unfinished/skipped ones to the next available timeslot.


If you are struggling with procrastination, maybe it’s time to start treating it as your friend. Use structured procrastination to trick your mind into being productive. Be aware of the flaws of structured procrastination and utilize other things that might help you.

With that said, I should stop procrastinating my work and finish up this essay. Thanks for reading!