Positive Procrastination: Getting Things Created

Hello I’m Bryan Tamayo, and I’m a Professional Procrastinator! I’ve been following David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) followings and I’ve tried many different systems in the process. I carried a hipster PDA in the beginning and now I carry a moleskin. I have found that for the everyday knowledge worker, the GTD system works well once it’s tailored to your lifestyle. My problem is that more than half of my work requires creativity. I needed more of a GTC philosophy–Getting Things Created. With that thought in mind I believe that for the creative community there is an important piece missing–Positive Procrastination!

Positive Procrastination (or PRO-crastination)

Why do we always think of procrastination as a bad thing? I agree that in most circumstances procrastination for a typical knowledge worker can be self destructive. However, for the creative community, procrastination can be an important element during the incubation period while awaiting insight.

Procrastination: is a behavior which is characterized by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. [1] Psychology researchers also have three criteria they use to categorize procrastination. For a behavior to be classified as procrastination, it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying. (via Wikipedia)

Creativity: A mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness is that it is simply the act of making something new. (via Wikipedia)

In my workflow, procrastination is the Yin to the creativity’s Yang. I can’t have one without the other. Both are equally important in finishing my creative projects. Lets face it, procrastination is quite destructive unless you approach it in a constructive way.

Proactive Delays

Like many out there in the depths of destructive procrastination, I like to do active delays. Meaning, I will do all sorts of things that deal with the project being done, except actually doing the project. All while hoping that the lightning bolt of creativity will strike. This seems like a good example of destructive procrastination, but is it really?

When you have a creative project, instead of merely procrastinating, start the preparation of your project with small, yet pertinent tasks (thank you GTD). Thus you will create a compost from which your garden of ideas will grow.

Examples of Positive Procrastination Tasks

  1. Build a folder structure for your project
  2. Brainstorm for SOURCES of information that may benefit your project
  3. Look for & Listen to Music that will inspire your mood & thoughts of the target audience
  4. Gather previous related projects for reference
  5. Research competitors in your discovered SOURCES
  6. Create a trend research board or mood board
  7. Brush up on new software techniques (if related to project)
  8. Go trend shopping. Pretend to be your target customer. What would they buy from each store?

If you have some more Positive Procrastinations please put them in to the comments on this post.

The Wrap-Up

All of these are things you can do without actually doing physical work on the creative side of the project. In one way these tasks are simply busy work, but in another, more important way, they can be pieces of information used to construct a tight knit, complete creative solution. The more Positive Procrastination you do, the more you will keep your mind busy and off the pressure of developing a creative concept. It will till a rich soil in which your creativity may grow. Water daily, and your creativity should flourish!

Bryan Tamayo is an Art Director at Fossil Inc. You can read more about him on his blog http://bryantamayo.wordpress.com or you can follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/btamayo

2 thoughts on “Positive Procrastination: Getting Things Created”

  1. Y’know, I never thought of it as procrastination, but I employ this technique constantly. Design is problem solving much more so than putting pencil to paper or pixel to Photoshop, so I usually work on secondary or tertiary tasks related to the project at hand–and just as often work on other projects–while tasking my subconscious to solve the design problem(s) of the first. I think consciously about it from time to time, and eventually wind up with one or more solutions, which I then test out in sketch form, and from there move on to comps and refined design. It IS positive procrastination, I just never thought of it as such.

    This is an excellent article and a truly great perspective on the creative process. Thanks, Bryan!

  2. Thanks for your kind words! If anyone has some good PRO-crastination techniques they wish to share please do in the comments. Also if you like the article please share the link!

Comments are closed.