01/12/2012 09:33 am ET Updated Mar 12, 2012

Why Procrastination is a Good Thing

Most students view procrastination as a harmful and distracting tangent from the task they should be doing. However, it can actually benefit us in more than just one way.

Studies on procrastination include the Longitudinal Test of Procrastination by Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister of Case Western University, which tracked the levels of stress, performance and health among students. It has concluded that those who do not procrastinate stress in the beginning period of a task, whereas procrastinators freak out only as the deadline approaches. While both parties may stress, the amount of time procrastinators spend stressing is less because it is compressed into a shorter period of time.

Additionally, it is not in our human nature to be immensely productive for roughly 16 hours of the day (subtracting the average hours spent on sleeping). It is important to keep in mind that making time to enjoy leisure activities is necessary. Chinese philosophy, for example, focuses on the correct timing of actions because it is the "natural order of the universe." Indian philosophy also discusses the paths of action and inaction. In this sense, procrastinating can act as a breather period. If we are all rubber bands that are stretched too tightly, we will eventually snap.

My experiences with procrastination has led me to categorize the various forms of it into two categories: doing nothing or doing something. The latter form of procrastination means putting off an important assignment in order to work on another one. Those who argue that procrastination makes them accomplish less might not realize the method of this "productive" procrastination, in which by the end of the day, both assignments will be done, just in a different order. The problem that arises is that people may not consistently have this productive, relaxed and optimistic mindset.

People often neglect the benefits of putting things off. Procrastination does not have to be wasted by doing aimless activities. If one procrastinates on school work to talk to friends, bond with family members or explore hobbies, a whole additional set of skills that could not be obtained by pure, steady schoolwork is obtained.

Procrastination should not control anyone -- instead people need to use their procrastinating time wisely in order to reap the benefits.