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Would you call yourself a procrastinator? Many people who have a difficult time meeting deadlines would blame their inability to be on time on their tendency to procrastinate. Stanford professor John Perry believes that procrastination is not a bad thing and has found a way to harness procrastination to get more work done.
Dr. Perry calls this new approach to accomplishing tasks structured procrastination. Being a college professor burdened with never-ending deadlines, Dr. Perry felt the crushing guilt that many procrastinators feel after constantly falling short. One day, Dr. Perry was in an introspective mood and was analyzing the relationship between expectations, deadlines, productivity, and procrastination; he then came to the conclusion that he is not a dirty rotten procrastinator, because he actually accomplishes a lot.
An accomplished procrastinator, how can this be? In his book “The Art of Procrastination,” Dr. Perry explains how he came to this conclusion, “If I get all this stuff done, how can that be when I’m a crummy procrastinator? And it occurred to me, well, there’s a difference between procrastinating and being lazy — I’m not lazy. I do a lot of stuff, as long as it’s a way of not doing something else that I’m supposed to do.”
As Dr. Perry explains it, procrastinators, “seldom do absolutely nothing.” In fact, the best procrastinators are people who stop working on something, only to go work on something else. Either way, they are still accomplishing something and progress is made toward their goal. Dr. Perry suggest that with a simple adjustment in a person’s to-do list, along with changing the way a person perceives deadlines, procrastination can actually be used as a productivity tool that will allow a person to accomplish everything they need to…eventually.
The key to procrastinating properly lies with understanding the difference between legitimate deadlines and due dates that are just a bunch of hype. People tend to try and use deadlines as a motivator, even though what they are asking of you, may not even require a deadline. You will want to add these seemly important projects to the top of your to-do list because these are the projects that you can get away procrastinating with. In the middle of your to-do list are the projects that are actually important and have legitimate deadlines. By arranging your list like this, you will procrastinate on the big tasks at the top of your list, only to end up accomplishing the projects that are actually important.
Concerning the big projects that you procrastinate on, you will eventually get them done, just tell the people pressuring you with false deadlines to “take a number,” and “you will get to it when you get to it.” Telling others to “relax,” and “take a chill pill,” can actually be an empowering experience to a procrastinator, seeing as the guilt that comes from procrastinating is primarily a form of peer pressure.
It is important to keep in mind that using procrastination to accomplish more tasks will only work if a person is a productive procrastinator. If a person is straight-up lazy, and has a tendency to put off doing work only so they can sit on their duff and do nothing, then no amount of list tweaking is going to help this.
With this new take on life, be proud of being a procrastinator! You can use your natural tendency to accomplish a lot! Gather your procrastinator friends; tell them the good news, hold a procrastinator’s pride parade–procrastinators of the world unite…tomorrow!