“When you dive right into a (creative) task, you end up with tunnel vision,” says author and Wharton School psychology professor Adam Grant. “You think in linear ways…and you only have access to the obvious and familiar ideas that you initially started with.”

Grant, author of the recently published, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, says he had never been a procrastinator until learning its role in the creative process. “I’ve learned to take a step back and say, ‘What if I delay the start of a task so that it’s in the back of my mind for a couple days?’ I’m much more likely, then, to see unexpected connections between ideas, to leap from one possibility to another.”

But don’t confuse creative procrastination with waiting until the last moment, Grant warns. “If you wait until the deadline, then you’re just going to have to rush to finish the simplest idea. But there is a sweet spot where procrastination helps with divergent thinking, with incubation, and with nonlinear connections.”

Examples of genius procrastinators

| Architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent over a year thinking over one of his most famous designs, Fallingwater.

| Leonardo DaVinci spent at least 16 years working, on and off, creating the Mona Lisa.

| Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote the overture for Don Giovanni in a single night—the night before the opera’s debut. (If you are Mozart, you can ignore that earlier advice about not waiting until the last minute.)

VIA | McKinsey.com


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