I just finished reading The Art of Procrastination, a tiny little book about one philosopher's experience with "structured procrastination," or putting off big tasks in favor of completing small (and frequently insignificant) ones. John Perry, a philosophy professor at Stanford, wittily puts fellow procrastinators to ease about the habit. He also offers tips, such as "horizontal organization" or teaming up with non-procrastinators for projects.
The book is only 92 pages long and Perry's writing style makes the reading go quickly. Although, I have to admit, I set time aside to read this instead of using it to procrastinate.
But it got me thinking about my own procrastination. The level Perry describes in his book makes me anxious. Not meeting deadlines? Just thinking about it makes me tense! I do put things off, but never for so long that I "get behind" or end up asking for extensions.
College doesn't like procrastinators. Every semester a professor wags her finger and says "I don't give extensions! Use your time wisely." I highlight every due date, put them into my planner, and count back how many days it will take for me to complete the assignment. Perry, I have a feeling, would not go to such lengths.
But procrastination doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's a great motivator for me. I do much better work at the last minute than I do when I start early. My favorite papers don't come from a week of writing. They come from frantic writing the morning before the paper is due (always leave time to edit!). I feel more inspired when I'm under pressure to complete an assignment.
Of course, that isn't true for everyone. My friend Hattie finishes things weeks before their due, and does very well on them. She often ends up with more "guilt-free" time than me, but that's okay. We all have our own way of getting things done. That's really what Perry made me think about; procrastinators aren't inherently bad people. They just have a different way of getting things done.
And as long as things get done (and done well), does how they get done really matter?
How do you procrastinate, or does the thought of putting off tasks make you cringe? Any advice for college procrastinators?
Woot woot, Below the Line!
- If you'd like to see more about John Perry and his book, take a peek at his website!
- I did a little tweaking on the blog this weekend. See if you can tell what's new!
- Any of you bloggers? I'd love to check out your blog. Leave a comment below so I can find your site.
- A corn question: do you eat corn-on-the-cob horizontally, like a squirrel, or all the way around? My family was discussing this yesterday :)