The Bigger Picture: Procrastination is Part of The Process

In the MBA admissions business, procrastination is a big deal. I have seen individuals procrastinate for months on end, eventually abandoning the application process altogether. Driven and well-intended applicants are plagued by indecision, anxiety and paralysis in the face of sitting down to write essays. As a result, I have thought a lot over the years about procrastination: why we do it and how to stop.

But as with everything in life, moderation is the key. While too much procrastination can derail your entire effort, I argue that some procrastination is essential.

It’s hard to feel inspired when you are chained to a desk, delivering task after task, 24/7. We all know that inspiration is more likely to strike while we are in the shower, or out taking a walk. Ideas are often generated through conversations with friends, encounters out in the real world, listening to music or even aimlessly surfing the Internet. Truly, inspiration is everywhere, but it might be hard to uncover if you are always focused on doing. Sometimes your brain just needs a break.

In fact, simply staring at your blank computer screen, bored out of your mind, may be better than forcing yourself to churn out work on it. Several studies have documented that boredom can spark creativity.

In one study, participants had to tediously copy names out of a phone book. This “bored” group was compared to a control group. Next, both groups were asked to engage in exercises that required creativity. The bored group consistently scored higher than the control group.

These days, we pretty much eliminate every moment of boredom through the use of our devices. Kids no longer lay in the grass, staring up at the sky and pondering the universe. In fact, kids don’t even speak to each other anymore.

Constantly checking our devices makes us feel good temporarily but it interrupts the deeper contemplation that initiates from listless, aimless boredom.

Here’s an idea. If you get stuck while drafting your MBA essays, or your next screenplay or business plan, ease up a bit. Cut yourself some slack and try one of these two taboo tactics: procrastinate for a few hours or simply lean into boredom.

Let me know how it goes!

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