Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Art of Procrastination

In my defense, atleast I finally got down to writing this. But then again, it isn't like I'm bound by deadlines. Well, I do have a sort of vague deadline in my head : but if I tell you about it I might actually have to stick to it. So what were we talking about again? Procrastination.



Okay. Let's just do this, shall we? Are you a procrastinator? The why do today what you can put off till tomorrow kind? Welcome to the club. Procrastination affects most people I know in some way or the other. I speak as though it is a terrible thing. I assure you, it is nothing of the sort. Well, atleast, recent studies show me there is some hope. By recent studies I refer to articles on the internet I read last week. We'll get back to that.

Let's dwell on the procrastination habit then. There are things I like to do, and things I don't. And yet I procrastinate. In both the above categories. I wonder if it's just become part of the routine of any activity. Think, procrastinate, think while you procrastinate, and only then, begin. Well its there, and how. To get up and go to the gym, to begin studying for that exam (the next day), to get started on that article I've been meaning to write, to make the move to the drop-box to pay my bills, many many things.

What do I do about it? Berate self. Make (yet another) resolution for the new year. Read articles on the internet? :)

Paul Graham writes about procrastination
. Positively, I see. Ah, this looks good, think I. But then I get disappointed. He categorises procrastinators and picks the category that puts off the small errands for bigger, more important stuff. He calls them the Good Procrastinators. Oh them, I realise. We all know about those guys. No help this is.

Then I find yet another article-on-the-internet. This is what I call good advice. I'll quote him here.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m a skilled procrastinator myself. But you need to be smart and tightly wrapped to make it a way of life.

Begin by ascertaining accurately what “the last minute” is for a given project. A big project will generate many tasks that can, of course, be done the night before, but there are even more that can’t. Learn to identify each type.

The great procrastinators indulge in a pre-crastinatory phase that involves the full range of thumb-twiddling, foot-tapping, and snoozing while they determine when is the right time to put the pedal to the metal. They then enjoy the procrastinatory activity, which often includes late-stage work on other projects. In this way, they are mixing procrastination with multitasking — very 21st century. They treat themselves, after the successful event, to a period of post-crastination, in which they ponder how to put off things more effectively in the future.

But for most individuals, procrastination is dynamite. Don’t fool around with it until you’ve achieved a certain level of proficiency.

The complete article is here. Now this is the kind of advice I'd like to see more often. Do procrastinate, just do it well. In fact I can think of more than one other person, who I would call a Skilled Procrastinator. :)

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