I've been meaning to do this writeup for a while now. Why am I finally doing it? You might think that I have finally found some free time
with which to compose a new node for this wonderful community
- but then, you would be thinking wrong. You see, I have a ton of other responsibilities
that currently demand my attention
. I am writing this as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the foundation
for what is referred to as Structured Procrastination
, a strategy that allows procrastinators
to become productive human beings. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of turning what is normally a weakness (procrastination
) into an advantage.
The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastination can include difficult, sensible and significant tasks, provided these tasks are a way of not doing something more important. Ironically
, procrastinators often approach the situation in exactly the opposite manner: They try to minimize
their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. However, this destroys the procrastinators main source of motivation
. The few tasks on their list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing
The one admitted drawback
to this approach is that those things that are at the top of the importance
list never get done. We've all been in this situation
; you seem to be at your most creative
when you've got tons of important stuff you should be doing. If the things on the top of your list are genuinely important, then the procrastinator runs into some rather frustrating problems.
Thankfully, this potentially disastrous
effect can be avoided by simply choosing the right projects for the top of your list. Ideally, these projects should seem very important (even though they really aren't) and they should appear to have a clear deadline
(even though they really don't). Take, for example, a website
I was going to code for a non-profit organization. It was supposed to be done 4 months ago, but I've been able to complete numerous
other important things as a way of avoiding this project. It turns out that the non-profit organization forgot all about it, and when I finally produced a half-assed first draft of their new website, they were happy and extended the deadline.
Right now, E2
and my weblog
are the immediate beneficiaries of my avoidance of responsibility, and I hope to keep it that way...
Many ideas in this writeup were gleaned from this article: http://www-csli.stanford.edu/%7Ejohn/procrastination.html