Don’t delay — read The Art of Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination by John Perry c.2012, Workman Publishing $12.95/$14.95 Canada 112 pages

The Art of Procrastination by John Perry c.2012, Workman Publishing $12.95/$14.95 Canada 112 pages

The big project you’ve got on your desk is due on Thursday.

And so far today, you’ve managed to get a lot done. You’ve cleaned your middle drawer, checked emails, faxed an order you should’ve sent to the vendor last week, organized lunch for Thursday’s meeting, and found that management book your co-worker wanted to read.

Yes, you’ve accomplished a lot today. Just not on the big project.

But go back and think: you got a lot done, so carpe tomorrow. In the new book The Art of Procrastination by John Perry, you’ll see how foot-dragging may be a step in the right direction.

Humans are supposedly rational beings, known for higher-thinking brains. We can, therefore, prognosticate enough to recognize that unpleasant or necessary tasks will eventually need doing — so why do we put them off until the last minute?

It’s because we tend to act against our better judgments, which Plato and Aristotle called akrasia. When akrasia consists of dawdling, Perry (who is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Stanford) likes to refer to it as structured procrastination, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Here’s why: like most people, you probably have a daily to-do list. On it, there are a small number of things you need to complete, and one of them is very important. With little to no effort, you can generally finish the lesser tasks each day and you feel good crossing them off the list. That, Perry says, is how secret procrastinators get a reputation for getting lots of things done.

But remember, the important task is still on the list.

Eventually, says Perry, and probably before your deadline, the once-onerous task will become do-able when something less appealing bumps it from the top spot on your list. Or you’re in a better mood to do it. Or you finally figure out a plan. Thus, structured procrastination turns your negative trait into a positive.

“The trick,” he says, “is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list.”

And if that doesn’t give you the psychological boost you need, try doing the task in small bites. Play “perky” music to get you going. Find a collaborator who takes responsibility for your time-frame, or just go ahead and embrace your procrastination. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish.

At just 112 pages, The Art of Procrastination seems more like a pamphlet than a book; indeed, author John Perry says this mini-volume sprang from a previously-published essay. That makes it quick to read — but there’s a lot to learn.

Perry makes readers laugh at themselves with real information presented in a lighthearted, decidedly un-scholarly manner. Yes, this is a fun book but it’s not frivolous: Perry eventually admits that procrastination is really not a good trait but that it can be handled with the right attitude.

So if your entire life runs a day behind everyone else’s, or if you’ve fruitlessly poked a Poky One, The Art of Procrastination might help deal with the situation. Grab this book. Read it.

Don’t wait.

Just Posted

Kudos to award winners

Rimbey Chamber of Commerce holds gala affair to recognize businesses and individuals

Third annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Night held

Business and individual award recipients recognized

Watch: Gravel truck turns into wrong off-ramp at Highway 2 Ponoka

The new Highway 2 and Highway 53 intersection at Ponoka caused some confusion for one driver

Bentley has new mayor

New Bentley council ready to begin term

WATCH: ASIRT investigating officer-involved shooting during crime spree

Shots fired on two occasions during incidents, one suspect remains in hospital with serious injuries

VIDEO: Tragically Hip singer-songwriter Gord Downie dies at 53

Downie had been fighting brain cancer for over a year

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

B.C. woman plagued by bedbugs on airplane not surprising, says expert

Heather Szilagyi was on a British Airways flight when she noticed bedbugs crawling out of the seat

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

IIO concludes RCMP action not cause of wanted man’s death in Revelstoke

Man linked to Calgary homicide died in Revelstoke following five-hour standoff

Most Read