writing a to do list

Wasting Your Time Effectively With Productive Procrastination

We always strive to grind and work harder every day. We set systems and routines and we follow all these techniques we see online. There’s one fundamental thing we forget though — to take a break.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Taking a break is a double-edged sword. There’s the part of it where you think to yourself “I did all that work, I deserve a break”. There’s also the part of you that starts the “five-minute break” only to realize that you’ve been doom-scrolling on Twitter for the last 2 hours. 

I faced the same issue and I’m 99% sure that you have too. It’s human nature! 

There is a way to counteract this though. I’ve been deploying it since this year began and while it’s been hard to stick to, this technique is a game changer.

The 3 Tier System

If you google the word “procrastination”, you’ll get the answer that it’s “the action of delaying or postponing something.” 

You can’t surely put a task off and call yourself productive, right?  That’s where the 3 tier system comes in.

You essentially split your tasks off into three tiers:

Tier 1 

Tier 1 work consists of things that we actually consider as “work”. This can be that exam you have to study for or that report you have to submit to your boss next week.

This tier of work requires determination and hustle. 

Tier 2

Tier 2 work can be thought of as the “housekeeping tier”. 

It includes errands and chores you’ve got to do around the house like taking the trash out and doing the dishes. 

This tier can also include things that you’ve been putting off for a while like sifting through your emails and (for me) making notes on things that I’ve recently read or listened to.

Tier 3

The word “work” can’t really be put up here because this tier is what we think of when we hear the word “procrastination”. 

Doom-scrolling is the perfect example for this. This tier is what you don’t want to be doing when you want to be productive.

The key goal is to do tier 1 tasks as much as possible. When you can’t do those anymore, you should strive to do tier 2 tasks. Put off tier 3 tasks for when you’re winding down.

This simple principle gives you a way to structure your time. You’re never going to be caught thinking “what do I do now?” — you’ve set a system for yourself and you know what to do when circumstances arise.

How do I implement this?

Richard Feynman once said that it’s one thing to know the name of something, but it’s another thing to actually know what that thing is. 

Similarly, you can easily know the principle of productive procrastination but implementing is something you have to get yourself to do.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

I worked through this by actually getting clear about my tasks at hand and organizing them into their respective tiers beforehand. I’d write down all the tasks I have to complete during my morning routine and then I’d mark each task as T1, T2 or T3. 

I’d then make it a habit to check my to-do list throughout the day, especially when I caught myself asking the question “okay, what do I do now?”.  I’d know what to do now because it’s all laid out right there on my list — I just needed to be disciplined enough to do those tier 2 tasks and then I’d power through those.

Conclusion

Procrastination is a parasite that strikes all of us. We can’t eliminate it because it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance.

Instead, with a little bit of planning ahead and discipline, we can visualize our tasks at hand and prioritize them using the tier system to get things done.

Good luck procrastinating productively! 

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