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Good and Bad Procrastination
December 25, 2005 11:04 PM   Subscribe

There are an infinite number of things you could be doing. No matter what you work on, you're not working on everything else. So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well. (via slashdot)
posted by Chuckles (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
There are, of course, lots of problems with his theory. For one, a lot of productive people are able to be that way by following a strictly regimented schedule. Also, he seems to be encouraging some profoundly anti-social behavior. Nonetheless, he raises some great points.
posted by Chuckles at 11:06 PM on December 25, 2005


See also.
posted by kenko at 11:17 PM on December 25, 2005


Eh, I'll read this article later...
posted by fishbulb at 11:28 PM on December 25, 2005


Procrastination has a website.

But is it "Class-C" procrastination?
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 11:48 PM on December 25, 2005


From the article: "The most impressive people I know are all terrible procrastinators. So could it be that procrastination isn't always bad?"

I hope I'm not the only one raising an eyebrow at this blanket statement upon which this argument is based. That said, I think the author is really just trying to say that focused people know how to prioritize.
posted by MJ6 at 12:11 AM on December 26, 2005


Really, this is a rather stupid essay. I think most people consider running unnecessary errands to put off things you don't want to do procrastinating.

And when most people say 'procrastinating' they mean doing nothing (i.e. watching TV, posting to metafilter, etc) rather then incorrect prioritization.
posted by delmoi at 1:41 AM on December 26, 2005


In other words, this essay only makes sense for a very strange definition of 'procrastinate'
posted by delmoi at 1:42 AM on December 26, 2005


I hope I'm not the only one raising an eyebrow at this blanket statement upon which this argument is based. That said, I think the author is really just trying to say that focused people know how to prioritize.

A the end he says that people he calls 'type-A' procrastinators feel guilty about running off to work on their novel rather then buying groceries, and they shouldn't.
posted by delmoi at 1:44 AM on December 26, 2005


You can't look a big problem too directly in the eye. You have to approach it somewhat obliquely. But you have to adjust the angle just right: you have to be facing the big problem directly enough that you catch some of the excitement radiating from it, but not so much that it paralyzes you.

[this is good]
posted by Afroblanco at 2:37 AM on December 26, 2005


paul graham can be pretty interesting. those essays are worth poking around in, especially if you have any interest in lisp.
posted by mosessmith at 3:16 AM on December 26, 2005


The author's idea is a well-written variation of the big rocks principle.
posted by jam_pony at 4:05 AM on December 26, 2005 [1 favorite]


Something a bit similar to this that I find to be true is that I am most productive above a certain threshold of distraction. Just sitting there reading (the major productive task of a graduate student), I frequently get taken with the impulse to go do something else. It's usually useful, like cleaning or cooking, but it doesn't advance whatever I am trying to do.

Listening to upbeat and familiar music seems to be the best way of tricking the brain into thinking it is doing enough at that moment to not need to cast around for more activities. Still, it's a fine balance and a hard thing to keep up for more than a few hours.
posted by sindark at 4:38 AM on December 26, 2005


procrasturbate.
posted by wakko at 5:51 AM on December 26, 2005


I'm writing this comment to because I'm in the middle of fixing someone else's documentation. I haven't even read the article. How appropriate.
posted by urish at 6:40 AM on December 26, 2005


what is it they say about procrastination and masturbation? That both feel good while you do it, but in the end you're just screwing yourself...
posted by farishta at 6:55 AM on December 26, 2005


I don't think you can procrastinate by actively trying to procrastinate. If you are purposely doing something, you are no longer procrastinating. It's kind of like trying to practice moderation all the time; if you successfully do that, you are no longer doing it.
posted by spira at 8:15 AM on December 26, 2005


Listening to upbeat and familiar music seems to be the best way of tricking the brain into thinking it is doing enough at that moment to not need to cast around for more activities.

I love SomaFM.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:16 AM on December 26, 2005


I didn't love this article, but his others are generally thought-provoking, if a little overly dependent on assertion.
posted by callmejay at 12:09 PM on December 26, 2005


Some of Paul Graham's essays are astonishingly insightful; others less so, or written for a small audience. This one's in the latter category.

The similarity that I found (which would have been nice to mention, or reference) is Stephen Covey's urgency/importance quadrants. Things may be urgent, or important, or both, or neither. Too many people find themselves "running errands", i.e. attending to the non-important but urgent (Quadrant III), and getting caught up in answering e-mail, reading MetaFilter, and the like (Quadrant IV), and firefighting important crises (Quadrant I). This leaves little time for Quadrant II stuff. Covey recommends prioritizing your to-do list by quadrant so that you're doing more Quadrant II stuff, with the idea that Quadrant I stuff tends to take care of itself; Graham seems to be recommending something similar.
posted by dhartung at 12:19 PM on December 26, 2005


Fuck friends. All they do is waste your time.
posted by graventy at 1:15 PM on December 26, 2005


Procrastination IS an art.

Call me Michealangelo.
posted by HTuttle at 3:57 PM on December 26, 2005


I'll look up the spelling later.
posted by HTuttle at 3:57 PM on December 26, 2005


This deserves further study. Maybe next week.
posted by staggernation at 9:13 PM on December 26, 2005


Does no one know about ADD in adults?
posted by tricky_t at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2005


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