This article explores ways of staying productive while procrastinating (putting things off). It offers suggestions on courses of action to ensure that productivity is maintained. In addition, the article examines three other issues: it cautions about tapping into latent anger as a motivator; it warns of three myths concerning organizational change and it offers six “quick hit” ideas.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Careers, business studies

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How do I avoid procrastination?
  • What are some effective strategies to ensure productivity?
  • Why should tapping into latent anger be avoided?
  • What are some key myths about organizational change?

New Terminology:


Materials Needed:

Copies of the article

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

We all procrastinate, some more than others. Successful people, however, are better able to control this urge. They develop strategies to either stay on task or regain their attention to the task at hand far more quickly. Procrastination is obviously an avoidance activity and if a person can develop strategies to control this urge he or she will prove to be far more effective in meeting objectives. This is far more easily said than done.  This article, among other things, offers some strategies for “procrastinating productively” and by having the students examine these ideas they, perhaps, will be able to recognize the onset of procrastination and utilize one of the techniques to ensure that they remain productive and focused. The other topics in the article can serve as ancillary information for them but these items will not be the focus of the lesson.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson posting the following quotations:

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
Leonardo da Vinci

“A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere

“If you believe you can accomplish everything by “cramming” at the eleventh hour, by all means, don’t lift a finger now. But you may think twice about beginning to build your ark once it has already started raining”
Max Brooks, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

  • Ask the students what these quotes have in common.
  • Ensure that they see that these quotes all deal with the idea of putting things off, or procrastinating.
  • Arrange the students in groups of five or six and ask them to answer the following questions:
    • Why do people procrastinate?
    • What are some of the ways people procrastinate?
    • What are the consequences of procrastinating?
    • Can people procrastinate productively?
  • Allow the groups time to complete the task.
  • Once they have finished answering the questions have each group report their answers.
  • Once this has been done, give them a copy of the article and ask them to read the first part concerning procrastination.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Once they have completed the reading, hold a plenary session with the class and have them respond to what they have just read, including whether or not it has changed their ideas and whether they think the strategies presented would be effective.
  • Ask them for any additional strategies they think might be effective in controlling procrastination.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Explain why people procrastinate
  • Offer strategies to “procrastinate effectively”

Confirming Activity:

  • Ask the students to identify a time when they procrastinated and it proved costly and what they would now do to control that urge.