My high school English teacher used to say, “Procrastination is a disease.” But try as many of us might, we continue to find ourselves working on the edge of deadline—this disease may not have a cure. Which is why it was so refreshing to read John Perry’s essay in the Wall Street Journal, in which the Stanford philosophy professor urges us to embrace our inner-procrastinator and make the best of it.
“The truth is that most procrastinators are structured procrastinators,” Perry explains. “This means that although they may be putting off something deemed important, their way of not doing the important thing is to do something else. Like reading instead of completing their expense report before it’s due.”
[D]on’t listen to most of the advice offered to procrastinators by people who don’t have this particular flaw. For example: “Keep your commitments to a minimum, so you won’t be distracted.” This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being. If a procrastinator doesn’t want to work on something, it won’t help to have nothing else to do. It’s better to have lots of things to do, so you can work on some of them as a way of not doing the task that, for whatever reason, you seek to avoid.
Perry offers remedies like unplugging your laptop to limit your websurfing and not obsessing over perfectionism. It’s worth reading in its entirety and the essay, as you can imagine, has generated a ton of comments.
I would have recommended this article when it came out last August but, well, you know.