If you are someone who likes to put off dealing with tricky issues, here’s something that might interest you. A retired Professor of Philosophy from Stanford University, John Perry, has come up with a framework – he calls it ‘structured procrastination’ – that can turn indecisive people into marvels of initiative and productivity. Here he explains how it all works:
‘All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.’
I would suggest that if you are a procrastinator, the time is right for you to devote some serious concern to achieving peace in the Middle East and bringing the economic downturn to an end. And while you avoid solving these global problems, you may want to get stuck into lesser issues such as your future employment or, if you’re an academic, the total re-writing of your course and the on-time delivery of your most recent book to the publishers.