Procrastination simply means putting things off instead of getting them done. There are many reasons to put off starting a project. Maybe you're daunted by the size of it, or the deadline is far off so you don't feel any urgency to get moving.

In this section we talk about how to tackle procrastination and get creative. And we also reveal how a little procrastination can be a good thing.

The procrastination spectrum

Procrastination is a scale. On one end you have procrastinators, the people who put things off and are often seen as unorganised or impulsive. Some procrastinators think a lot about a task but leave it until the last minute to until they do anything.

On the other end of the spectrum you have precrastinators, the people who rush into tasks for the pleasure they feel in getting them done. Precrastinaotors are often seen putting their tasks on a to-do list, crossing them off one by one. Some precrastinators end up doing things too quickly - rushing in and making mistakes.

Who are the people who manage this balance well?

They're known as 'thinker-doers'. They are people who don't rush to complete tasks, they think through the best way to complete the task and then they get to work. Creative people are often 'thinker-doers'.

To achieve the right amount of procrastination for you, find some gaps in your schedule when you can take a breath and think about what is still to be done. This is known as white space. It's unscheduled time that you can use to help you prepare.

Understanding yourself

A good starting point is to think about how you think. That sounds odd, right? Well, we've put together a quiz to help you. By answering a few questions you'll be able to find out if you're a positive thinker, or more of negative thinker or perfectionist.

Q1: When you're struggling to meet a deadline, how do you feel?
  1. I need to push myself harder and work harder
  2. I'll ask others for their opinions and get their help if I need it
  3. I'm no good at my job
Q2: When an unexpected challenge pops up to interrupt your creativity, how do you react?
  1. I go back to the beginning and start again
  2. I work out why it's happened and find a way forward
  3. I ignore it and try to carry on
Q3. When feedback to your creative work is negative, how do you react?
  1. I beat myself up and lose sleep
  2. I take it on the chin and learn from it
  3. I won't change my ways, I did what I could
Q4: When you can't agree on a direction with your team, how do you feel?
  1. That people don't appreciate your vision
  2. If I digest the opinion of others, I can suggest something new
  3. It's not my fault if it goes wrong
Q5: Your work is complete and it's getting lots of praise, how do you react?
  1. Talk about what should have done to improve it
  2. Enjoy the praise and consider it a job well done
  3. Worry about the times things didn't go according to plan
If you answered mostly 'A's

Think about how you can create some more realistic goals and expectations, rather than always trying to be perfect, and don't always be so hard on yourself.

If you answered mostly 'B's

You're a positive thinker, a team player with a balanced approach. Think about how you can encourage others to try and achieve that balance.

If you answered mostly 'C's

Think about how you can boost your confidence and reconnect with your creativity. Free yourself to create more, and just enjoy yourself. Speak to others to find out what they like about your work and use their feedback to spur you on.

How to tackle procrastination

Knowing how you think about tasks is important. It helps you understand why you might be procrastinating. Try having a positive thinking style next time you're procrastinating and see if it changes what you do next. But it should never be all work and no play. There are times that a little procrastination can be helpful.

Watch this short animation for some tips on what to do if you're putting things off or stuck on a task.

Teamwork makes the dream work

It can be easy to want to work alone, it can be really productive. But it can also lead to procrastination and a lack of new ideas. Collaborating with others is a great way to re-energise your creativity and explore new things. Enthusiasm is infectious and new perspectives are refreshing. Here's some tips to get you collaborating creatively.

Create a diverse group to work with

A mix of backgrounds, skills and experiences will be more likely to come up with great ideas than a group who are all the same.

Allow time for spontaneity

Get everyone together with pens and paper and start bouncing your ideas around. What do people think is the strongest idea - let everyone have a voice.

Not all collaboration has to be structured

A great idea can spark when chatting with someone during a break. Don't fence creativity in.

Leave room for silence

After a session sharing ideas, find a quiet space to sit and consider them all. New ideas may also pop up during quiet reflection

4 ways to shake off procrastination and get things done

  • Take control of your day: Take charge of your schedule; minimise interruptions and prioritise your tasks. Ask yourself what needs to be done now and what can wait until later?
  • Work your way: Think about when you're at your most productive. Perhaps you get bigger tasks done first and move onto to smaller things? Perhaps you like a slower start to the day and get more productive through the day? Work out what way works best for you.
  • Make things manageable: Set small goals and interim deadlines throughout the day. As you hit each small target, you'll feel motivated to stride toward the next target. Don't get overwhelmed and celebrate small wins.
  • Ask for help when you need it: A challenge should stretch you without breaking you. Get inspired by asking others for ideas on the challenge you face.