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

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Almost a year ago Kenney dismissed Trudeau as a dilettante and a lightweight

Nixon elected according to Global News

Nixon surges ahead in 15 ridings

Alberta’s Notley talks pipelines, energy on last day of election campaign

Noteley toured a pipe fabrication yard in Calgary, a key battleground in Tuesday’s election

Notley hopes for momentum shift as provincial election campaign winds down

Rachel Notley visited a Sikh temple in Calgary today before heading to Edmonton for a rally

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

Person airlifted to hospital after avalanche in Yoho National Park has died

The man was among a party of three involved in an avalanche Saturday afternoon

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Six months after legalization, high prices and supply issues boost illicit pot market

It has been six months since Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Most Read