When I was in college, I approached projects as any self-respecting student would: I waited until the last possible moment to start my research, then craft a lengthy essay on the lesser-known works of Chaucer, or argue the merits of Kant’s moral theories.
It did not go well.
At the crack of midnight, I was bent over texts that could double as door stops, studiously writing away. By two a.m., curled snail-like on the sofa, energy depleted, eyes bloodshot, brain lacking in conscious thought I lay still until creative inspiration kicked in.
My next move?
Bake a chewy batch of walnut brownies, or if I felt really ambitious, whoopie pies. After all, I was now wide awake, and nothing signals productivity like the scent of butter and sugar wafting through the kitchen. Eventually, adrenaline kicked in. Essays would be typed and proofed, often coherently so, and yummy desserts were at the ready.
Hello, my name is Elizabeth. And I’m a procrasitibaker.
I’m not the only one.
A recent New York Timesarticle confirms #procrasibaking is sweeping the nation.
Urban Dictionarydefines it as ‘the practice of baking something in order to put off doing something else you need to do. As a procrasti-fill-in-the-blank since birth (I was born two weeks late), I’m gratified that society has finally labeled, and celebrated my gift. If I may self-congratulate – something I was going to do earlier in this piece, but I decided to put it off till later – I have clinical, Ivy League proof to back up my thesis that procrasti-anything is not good for you, but according to Adam Grant, a ‘virtue to creativity.’
Grant, Professor of Management and Psychology at the Wharton School says when it comes to creative process, procrastination can lead to better ideas. One of his former students conducted a study asking participants to generate new business ideas. Some were asked to start right away. Other got five minutes to first play Minesweeper or Solitaire before they got to work. And the winners: The procrastinators, whose ideas were rated 28 percent more creative.
Grant writes, “When people played games before being told about the task, there was no increase in creativity.” He continued “It was only when they first learned about the task, and then put it off that they considered more novel ideas. It turned out that procrastination encouraged divergent thinking.”
Procrastibakers come from all walks of life: teachers, retailers, attorneys, hedge fund managers, writers and voice actors. Since I belong to the last two categories, I double the opportunity to channel my inner pastry chef. What happened the all those bourgeoise braggy over-achievers who worked 80 hours on a slow week? Turns out they’re hovering over a five-layer cake, whipping up a glossy ganache like you read about. If you’re interested, myrecipes.com recommends six new treats to whip up when you are #procrastibaking.
A few of my voice over colleagues discussed the phenomenon, and discovered we are all members of the club. My friend Kate Burns and I discovered we are also ‘procrastilaunderers.’ What’s more gratifying than delaying an afternoon of editing to wash, dry, and fold laundry? What’s more intoxicating than the scent of Tide as you dodge gainful employment?
There are endless variations. Why not procrastiweed, or procrastipaint, or a fan favorite, procrasibate? Since we’re all adults here, I leave you to figure out that one for yourself.
Procrastibaking can make you more productive…eventually. The psychological break in routine, helps you switch gears, give your brain something novel to do – or not do – to recharge and rejuvenate.
Creative activity in one area: sculpting, wood-working, jewelry-making, stokes creativity in other areas. Visit a museum. Sit in a darkened movie theatre to appreciate a great auteur like Ingmar Bergman, or Mel Brooks. I defy you to go back to work uninspired.
Creatively stuck. Walk in the woods, with a dog if you can. Feel the Zen, the abundance of psychic space and sheer exhilaration of wandering through nature. You’re not stalling. Your living.
All right. You’re stalling. But all in service to your work. All work, and no play makes our lives drab, mundane, uninspired. It’s knowing that our days can be fuller, richer by the occasional detour into flavor town that makes our work life sweet. Which is why the time has never been more important to #procrastibake now.