How to Reduce Stress Through Procrastination

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the things on your “to do” list that procrastination sometimes becomes a part of your life? Or, are there some tasks that you just can’t seem to get done for no other reason than you just don’t want to even if the task is important? If so, you are not alone.

A long time ago I read an article by John Perry at Stanford University which changed my life. (I placed a link to it at the end of this blog.) The concept is called “structured procrastination”.  If you’re really turned on by it and want to learn more, there are business articles, NPR interviews, a blog, and much more out there in cyberspace on the topic, especially if you want to procrastinate some more. I wouldn’t hold this against you. Getting back to “structured procrastination”, I’ll try to sum up the concept as best I can so you can get going, feel good about your accomplishments, and have less stress in your life. Less stress equals better wellness and we all want to feel the best we can each and every day.

The idea is to do something less important but still important. I know what you’re thinking. What??!!! Essentially, what a person does is inflate the importance of one task over the more important task so you get the less important task done. Then, you move on to the next “to do” item on your list, regardless if it’s that monster of a task that you’re currently avoiding. Typically, it isn’t. According to Perry, each task has to have two characteristics which really aren’t true: an inflated sense of importance, i.e. horrible things will happen to me, my family, and potentially all of mankind if I don’t do it and two, a deadline, i.e. I have to complete Task A-I-Don’t-Want-To-Do by this <insert deadline>. There is an art of self-deception here but what I’ve found from my own experience is that momentum is a wonderful and very fulfilling side effect. For example, if I opt to get the oil changed in my car – something I hate to do but is necessary – instead of paying bills, I feel a sense of accomplishment that enables me to move onto the next task.  I have to add, though, that for me the task doesn’t have to be important. I can do something completely off my “to do” list to really distract myself, aka procrastinate, such as organize a closet. I get the same momentum effect I would if I did something more important with a deadline. Feeling empowered, I typically go straight to the task I was avoiding. I know countless professionals who use this in their work life and develop a reputation for getting a lot done and done well. That truly IS important. They spend more time doing and less time avoiding. Try this and see if it works for you and don’t forget about the link below. Perry’s concept has been an invaluable asset in my life and I hope yours. With the busy holidays coming up, this might be just the tool you’ve been looking for, especially if you want to keep up or start new fitness goals to keep the holiday weight off. You’ll be able to go out, enjoy life, spend time with the people you love, and far less time worrying and stressing out about all the things you just can’t seem to get done.

As always, feel free to email me with feedback, questions, or suggestions for topics that interest you. I can be reached at or contact Bria directly. Thank you for reading!

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