Not only am I a life-long procrastinator, but now so are my kids. I felt guilty that I had passed this bad trait on to them. Luckily, new research shows that instead of feeling bad about this, I should actually be feeling good about it! Contrary to being labeled lazy, indecisive, or having a fear of failure, procrastinators can now see themselves as creative. Recent research has found procrastinators were often found to be more creative than those who were more likely to finish things right away.
Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton Business School, said he first started thinking about this theory when one of his “most creative students” told him she had her most original ideas after she procrastinated. This student, Jihae Shin, now a professor at the University of Wisconsin, investigated the hypothesis by carrying out surveys at two different companies, analysing how often staff there procrastinated and then getting their bosses to rate how creative and innovative they were. Professor Shin found those who procrastinated were often found to be the most creative.
She then tested her findings under laboratory conditions, where she asked a group of people to submit business ideas. Those asked to submit their ideas after playing games such as Minesweeper or Solitaire for five minutes. had their ideas rated 28 per cent more creative by assessors than those who started their ideas straight away.
So, what is the reasoning behind why procrastinators seem to be more creative? Professor Grant claims our first ideas are often our most conventional ones, whereas procrastination allows a person’s mind to wander, leading to more innovative thinking.
But don’t take procrastination too far. Further research found that leaving things to the very last minute meant people rushed to complete tasks, implementing the easiest idea rather than coming up with the most original.
What if you’re not a procrastinator? Professor Grant says, if you’re looking for more creative inspiration, “it may be worth mastering the discipline of forcing yourself to procrastinate.” He points out that some big thinkers are known as chronic procrastinators (Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Aaron Sorkin for example.)
So, why put off until tomorrow, what you can do today? Maybe, so you can come up with a more creative result.