When faced with a deadline, how often have you said to yourself, “there’s always tomorrow!” and then put it off? If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. And we’re often told that procrastination is negative. But is it really true that people who procrastinate have no friends, overspend, and are unsanitary? I’ll tell you tomorrow.
Issues May Resolve Without You
If you’ve ever decided something quickly, as we’ve all heard we should, how often could the issue be resolved by someone else? Emergencies often resolve themselves if you take no action. When people scream that it’s an emergency, often putting off the decision will force the person who created the issue to handle it themselves.
Decisions at the Last Possible Moment
In his book, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, Frank Partnoy claims that when faced with a decision, we should assess how long we have to make it, and then wait until the last possible moment to do so. The Romans and Greeks embraced their own procrastination like the big party-goers they were. But then the Puritans came along with a bunch of malarkey that people would embroider onto cushions about “a stitch in time saves nine.” But important decisions need slow cooking, in more of a crock-pot approach than a wok approach.
Reframing the Stigma
What if, instead of procrastination we called it managed delay? Something about the word procrastination makes us seem not in control of our own destinies. But managed delay? That makes us seem to be the managers of time and not vice-versa. And if your time needs better management, here’s Time Management for Busy Entrepreneurs.
Fast and Efficient
Putting off tasks until the last minute might seem inefficient, but when it’s the 11th hour and you have to finish that report sitting on your desk, it’s more likely to get done. Maybe not perfectly done, but done. As long as you’ve left that 11th hour free, that is.
The Art of Procrastination
John Perry, in the Art of Procrastination, “generously acknowledges that he has stood on the shoulders of giants, in particular Robert Benchley, the Algonquin Round Table member. In 1930, Benchley revealed how he mustered the willpower to pore through scientific magazines and build a bookshelf when an article was due.”
Anyone Can Do Any Amount of Work
“The secret of my incredible energy and efficiency in getting work done is a simple one,” Perry wrote. “The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” (from a New York Times article)
Productivity Under Pressure
Not everyone can sit down at their desk and produce a masterpiece at an appointed hour. Some are early birds and work best at dawn. Others need to delay until conditions are just so. If you can give your laser focus, but are a late starter, will you be any worse off? Here’s my post on about social media in 60 minutes a day, by the way.
Do You Procrastinate?
Let me know right now! Or later. Whatever.