Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In Celebration of National Procrastination Week: 10 Things I've Learned

This is what procrastination looks like. . . sometimes.

Last week, I committed to 
"celebrate" [National Procrastination Week] by reflecting on what I've learned about procrastination, in general as well as specific to my experience, over this past year of writing about it.
Emblematic of procrastination recovery in process, I both postpone and meet a deadline, simultaneously, with today's post.  

One of the benefits of putting off this assignment is that I have had some time to revise the project.  So instead of the exhaustive (or at least exhausting) review of my "body of work" on the subject, I've trimmed back the scope to the level of a top ten list.  And then, lowering my standards even further, I've jettisoned the "top" criterion, so that what follows is a list of ten things I've learned about procrastination, during the last year.

And here it is, in no particular order:

Ten Things I've Learned About Procrastination, During the Last Year
  1. It is widespread.
  2. There are lots of fun products that celebrate the spirit of procrastination.
  3. Writing about procrastination and related issues is a flourishing cottage industry.
  4. Many famous people, dead and alive (but not both), have struggled with procrastination.
  5. It comes in many flavors.
  6. Some treat it quite seriously, even as a mental illness, while others find it humorous, or at least benign, and even embrace it as an aspect of their identity.
  7. I will probably never completely eradicate procrastination from my own behavioral repertoire.
  8. The practice of delaying the beginning, middle, and/or end of a task can both contribute to and help to manage stress.
  9. As a culture, we seem to be procrastinating more and enjoying it less, as busyness reaches epidemic proportions.
  10. Procrastination can be seen as taking a toll, both in terms of human energy and economic resources.  
And there you have it.  And since I procrastinated the completion of this post today, I have no time to elaborate.   I would love to see others' lists. 


Oh, and check out Piers Steel's amusing and illuminating post for National Procrastination Week--The Greatest Procrastinator in History--on his Psychology Today blog The Procrastination Equation.  He's the author of the book by the same name, which we will be considering next in Procrastinating 101.  (Promotional Consideration paid for by the following... Not a single soul.)

Oh, and don't skip the comments, where psychoanalyst Josie Oppenheim weighs in lyrically in defense of procrastination's positive relationship to creativity.  And where Dr. Steel agrees.  Somewhat. 

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