Structured Procrastination

The definition of “Structured Procrastination,” as told by John Perry the Professor of Philosophy at Stanford, is: shape the structure of tasks in a way that you are avoiding doing something more important.  Knowing what you have to get done by having a list of very important things along with a list of not-so- important things and doing the not-so-important things before the very important is structured procrastination.  Keep things simple to stay on track: First things first- do most important thing first, and secondly, just do it.

What is structured procrastination?

As defined by John Perry, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, structured procrastination means shaping the structure of tasks one has to do in a way to avoid doing something more important.

“The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.”

The problems with procrastination is that it delays the inevitable – the most important assignment, chore, duty, or job must eventually be done, or there will be some unfavorable consequence to be experienced. As a result:

  • It causes needless anxiety and guilt.
  • It delays you from achieving your goals and objectives.

But it isn’t that simple, is it? If you could choose only the most important projects and ignore the rest, wouldn’t that make the most sense? Then there would be nothing to drag one’s feet about.

There are all kinds of books and Web sites that offer advice on being more productive. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, former CTO of AOL, and currently co-founder and CTO of the business networking site Ning calls this Productivity Porn (a superclass of materials and methods for theoretically becoming more organized and productive). Many of them are very good. Here’s a tiny list of some good productivity sites:

The Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity from Marc Andreesen at pmarcablog.com.

25 tweaks to increase your productivity from Phil Newton.net

Use High-Powered Tasks to Transform Your Productivity from FreelanceSwitch

How to Pimp Out Your Desktop for Productivity from lifehack.org

Instigator Blog’s Ultimate Guide to Productivity

43 Folders, Merlin Mann’s site about personal productivity.

These sites will all help you become more productive – they’ll help you to produce more.

What you have to do is to take the time to become more efficientto be more effective without needlessly wasting time or effort. The latter is what structured procrastinators, and many others, are unable to do.

You may find that many productivity authors have some advice on how to accomplish this as well. It can sometimes become overwhelming and confusing when ingested in mass quantities.

I need to keep things simple, so here is what I try to remember:

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Determine your most important job/mission/ assignment/undertaking. When you have a purpose, you gain focus and meaning.

JUST DO IT – when we stand still, we don’t simply stop expanding, we stagnate. When we continue to progress, we learn and we grow, and our passion and creativity is released and nurtured.

Don’t worry about picking the perfect task as the first one to pursue. There’s much to be learned from failure, not the least of which is patience. All growth is incremental, even when it’s explosive. Each step along the way can be vital to the next one. Learn from your mistakes and leverage them as you move forward.

Once you’ve focused on these two simple guidelines, not only will your productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness increase, but your satisfaction and peace of mind will enlarge as well.

One Comment on “Structured Procrastination”

  • As ususal another helpful and thought provoking post. I’m getting spooked by the synchronicity of this! My partner is just introducing the whole prioritisation and time management thing as a management theme where she works. Excllent!

    regards
    RR

Hi, Stranger! Leave Your Comment...

Name (required)
Email (required)
Website
Message