Irony is one of life’s simple pleasures. That’s why after putting off writing this week’s entry for three whole days I decided to write about a topic I’m very intimately acquainted with: the art and science of delayed action.
I’m no stranger to procrastination. It got me through high school, through college and surprisingly managed to scrape me through my first year of medical school. Procrastination is more than a habit for me; it’s a way of life. I over think, I hesitate to act, I take ages to reach a decision, all for the sake of the high I feel during that last-minute mad dash to do sum’n before sum’n do mi. It shows in all areas of my life: last-minute studying for exams, last-minute preparation for a project, last-minute applications, last-minute phone calls, last-minute cancellations. The list is frankly inexhaustible. I am a procrastination fiend. It’s terrible, really.
Or is it? Every procrastinator will argue that there is merit to their madness, value to their vacillations, and when one does it right, perhaps there is. The procrastinator doesn’t meander uselessly, he actively engages in other activities. The secret to procrastination, friends, is find something that you’d rather be doing and do that. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
The trick to succesful procrastination is to fill that potential ‘idle time’ with some other relatively important activity. Tired of doing homework? Go walk your dog. Have a report that’s due the next day? Go cook dinner, or wash the car, or even do laundry. Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t really want to do, go do something else first. Sooner or later even the most distasteful task will start to sound appealing. (As a matter of fact, I cleaned my room just today just to put off writing this entry. And now I’m writing this entry while putting off calling a friend. It’s a vicious cycle).
‘Structured procrastination’ was a term I first heard at the eponymous Structured Procrastination website. Undoubtedly the creator isn’t the first person to use the idea (it seems almost universal), but his site is full of clever ways to manage your time all the while maintaining your image as a carefree idler.
I really don’t think I’ll ever completely abandon my procrastinating ways. I’ll always love the sudden, ephemeral blaze of glory that last-minute panic induces. I do some of my best work under the duress of an imminent deadline, and some of my worst as well. Structuring my procrastination (aka prioritizing) allows me to keep on putting off and I’ll probably keep it up until something drastic happens to alter that entirely (touch wood). For the sake of self-discipline, though, I’ll try to restrict my weekly updates to a pre-Thursday posting schedule.
♠ Google A Day – reverse engineering the day’s puzzle gets you the answer. It’s like Jeopardy for Googleholics.
♠ The alt text on this comic makes for at least five minutes of mindless entertainment, and, who knows, you might learn something too.