Procrastinating Tips: 9 Reasons To Slack Off

08/15/2012 12:35 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2012
  • John Perry Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

It may sound counterintuitive, but you can accomplish a lot by putting things off. I call it "structured procrastination." According to my book, The Art of Procrastination []:

"In 1995, while not working on some project I should have been working on, I began to feel rotten about myself. But then I noticed something. On the whole, I had a reputation as a person who got a lot done and made a reasonable contribution... A paradox. Rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum. I realized that I was what I call a structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things."

All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this negative trait work for you. If you know that you tend to avoid that "big, important" project at the top of your priority list, rearrange said list by putting an even bigger, more important project at the top (think: "1. Learn Chinese..."). In addition to offering ingenious strategies for making yourself accomplish your tasks, I discuss such topics as the double-edged relationship between the computer and procrastination--on the one hand, it allows the procrastinator to fire off a letter or paper at the last possible minute; on the other, it's a dangerous time suck (I counter this by never surfing until I'm either already hungry for lunch or have a full bladder). And I point out what may be procrastination's greatest gift: the chance to accomplish surprising, wonderful things by not sticking to a rigid schedule. For example, I wrote this book by avoiding the work I was supposed to be doing--grading papers and evaluating dissertation ideas.

9 Reasons To Procrastinate