productive procrastination

I ran across these two essays by John Perry, a professor of philosophy at Stanford. One is entitled Structured Procrastination, and the other Procrastination and Perfection. To be quite honest, I identified quite solidly with these two articles. I have always referred to this kind of procrastination as Productive Procrastination, and it typically manifested itself in doing household chores instead of my homework (“I can never do my homework with my study in this state!” “How can I focus when there is so much laundry to be done!” ). At any rate, I have adopted a mantra that things that need to get done will get done. The paper always gets turned in; the homework always gets done.

Also important is this idea of creating a hierarchy of importance. This has been critical in graduate school, which sort of relates to the second article: which projects need to be perfect, and which projects can be less then perfect? This spring, for example, I had a variety of projects going on: 3 courses, an archaeological dig, and the sexual assault prevention job. I had to prioratize these items, and not all of them got done; I had to ask to have one of my classes (an independant reading with my advisor) extended over the summer. Something had to be placed on the backburner, so that other things could get done. All in all, this approach does a variety of things: I am still productive. I did get straight A’s last semester, completed an archaeological excavation, wrote two bibliography entries for an edited volume, and hired 50 Sexual Assault Peer Educators. All in all, I got a lot done. I still put a lot of things off, and didn’t necessarily complete everything (one final project was only half complete…another class I’m still reading for). Either way, making sure you know what needs to be perfect and what doesn’t can be extremely helpful when trying to get things done.

Be assured, this post, as well as most other posts, are exercises in productive procrastination.