^zhurnaly   -   Random   -   Recent Changes   -   Running Logbook   -   Mantra   -   Help

Structured Procrastination

Friend Dana B some months ago, while putting off more important work, alerted me to the essay "Structured Procrastination" by Stanford philosopher John Perry. His original essay, "How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done" appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1996; a somewhat-revised version is currently on structuredprocrastination.com. It's a marvel of Mark Twainish or Jerome K. Jeromian self-deprecation and begins:

I have been intending to write this essay for months. Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important. ...

And obviously: selecting, composing, editing, and posting ^zhurnaly entries is a massive multi-decade exercise in deferring more important but slightly-more-unpleasant tasks. I would expand upon this, but I must first locate some cross-references to add below ...

(cf. Three Man Boat (2002-01-10), LightningRods (2003-11-15), How to Do Things Right (2009-06-03), Earworms (2009-06-09), Tramp Abroad (2010-01-30), ...) - ^z - 2013-12-19

I like this!