Do you remember? In 1995, John Perry, the philosophy professor of Stanford University, wrote an essay entitled Structured Procrastination, about harnessing the power of procrastination to get things done. Eventually, he expanded it into a book, The Art Of Procrastination: A Guide To Effective Dawdling, Dallying, Lollygagging And Postponing. The irony of it, the name of the publisher is… Workman.
In 2011, for his Theory of Structured Procrastination John Perry was awarded Ig Nobel Prize in Literature.
To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important. (From “How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done,” John Perry, Chronicle of Higher Education. Later republished elsewhere under the title “Structured Procrastination.”)
But seen this way, today’s cacophony of anti-procrastination advice seems rather sinister: a subtle way of inducing conformity, to get you to do what you “should” be doing. Structured procrastination turns your rebellion into productivity, so you could argue it’s equally conformist. But at least it respects the existence of the urge. And it doesn’t let you forget a truth that most productivity gurus ignore: that just because something found its way on to your to-do list, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it needs to be done.
Russian discovered this too: Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow, the saying goes.