All procrastination is bad procrastination, right?Not so much. While spending three hours scrolling through Facebook when you've got a major deadline coming up is just plain self-sabotage, the relationship between procrastination and creativity is a bit more complex. It turns out that our brains have the capacity to work through problems subconsciously, and that giving our brains the space to do that can be beneficial for anybody who does creative work. In a brand new video from my friend Sven Pape of This Guy Edits (which is hands down the best YouTube channel around for aspiring editors), he shares how he uses planned procrastination as a strategy to be more creative and purposeful in his edits. The idea here is that your brain does an awful lot of work subconsciously, without you ever explicitly thinking about something. This is why it's often good advice to "sleep on it" when you're pondering a decision of some sort. Though your body is resting, your brain is still processing information. So when you wake up, you've often got new perspectives on old problems. This is what Adam Grant explains in his recent TED Talk (which is both insightful and hilarious, and a great way to spend 15 minutes). Here's the small study he concocted to see how procrastination affects our ability to be creative.
We asked people to generate new business ideas, and then we get independent readers to evaluate how creative and useful they are. And some of them are asked to do the task right away. Others we randomly assign to procrastinate by dangling Minesweeper in front of them for either five or 10 minutes. And sure enough, the moderate procrastinators are 16 percent more creative than the other two groups. Now, Minesweeper is awesome, but it's not the driver of the effect,because if you play the game first before you learn about the task, there's no creativity boost. It's only when you're told that you're going to be working on this problem, and then you start procrastinating, but the task is still active in the back of your mind, that you start to incubate. Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, to make unexpected leaps.