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Delayers get a bad rap.
Delayers get a bad rap. / Paul Vozdic/Getty Images

If you’ve mastered the art of waiting until the 11th hour to complete the task at hand, you may be more productive than you think. A new study finds that people who take a break from an intellectual task to do some mindless activity, then return to it, perform about 41% better after the break than those who never deviate.

Delayers get a bad rap in our culture, something that John Perry, professor emeritus of philosophy at Stanford University and author of The Art of Procrastination, would like to change. "For the most part, procrastinators actually get a lot done," he says.

Perry points out that on a deadline, procrastinators become masters of file-organizing. Although the quarterly report may not get done until 10 minutes before it’s due, the previous week at the office hasn’t been a waste. "Some people think the solution is to eliminate all other distractions from your life," says Perry, a self-proclaimed procrastinator. "That’s bad advice. The more things a procrastinator has to do, the more productive he’ll be."

A procrastinator’s biggest vice: the computer. Unplug your laptop before using it, which initiates an automatic shutdown time.

"Self-manipulation will help you keep procrastinating under control,” Perry says. “It’s not a matter of willpower — it’s knowing your tendencies and staying one step ahead."

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