Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Controlled Procrastination

Procrastination can be pretty therapeutic, I say. If you do it right.
The wrong way to do it is to put things off without thought – without a clear picture of what needs to be done and of what the “deadline” for completing it is.
Those who don’t practice what I like to call “controlled procrastination” are in a constant state of self-pressure. They are always worried about getting things done “ahead of time” and, so, they are always under pressure. “Ahead of time,” if you think about it, is “always.”
Sure. You can say “If I get it done ahead of time, I don’t have to worry about it anymore. “ I guess that’s true. But doesn’t this constant looking-ahead get tiring? The pressure never ends...
Nay! I say that the healthiest and happiest of us procrastinate with control.
Let’s say, for instance, that I need to finish grading a pile of essays in order to get the grades in by the end of a marking period. I could be like the “responsible” folk and say: “Well, if I do three every day, I will be done by…” Or, I could say, “I’ll sit all day on Saturday and finish them a week ahead of time…”
But I see it differently. I would rather say: “Well, it takes me X hours to complete X amount of papers.  I have two weeks to get them done. I will do them on the Friday before they need to be in.” Now, I have nearly two solid weeks of guilt-free, stone-etched,  procrastination ahead of me. I can relax on school nights – watch TV; write music; play with the lads; chill with the Mrs. I’m not worrying about the deadline anymore. I’m not saddled with a daily quota of grading; a daily dose of unpleasantness. I know I’m going to have a lousy Friday, two weeks hence, but that will be one lousy day, not a series of days with lousy task hidden in each, like a dog’s pill in peanut butter.
AND, if things go wrong, I have my two day cushion of Saturday and Sunday…just… in…case. Controlled procrastination, my friends. It’s the wave of the happy future.
Nothing is as (I hate when people use this world, but it works, here) liberating as blowing off work, secure in the knowledge that it will get done, for sure, but…later [he says with a soothing smile].
Right now, it’s par-tay time. Work time has its designated, distant – if inevitable -- spot in the proverbial “grand scheme”.
(And right now, my type-A wife, Karen, is wondering who this monster is that she married and whether this piece is grounds for an annulment .)


  1. No, no... It's okay.
    I daresay that would be called planning. Not procrastination.

    It's really the same as what I do. Choose one day to complete the unpleasantry. Get 'er done. But I have more of a "cushion" in case something goes wrong.

    And also, I daresay, that *I* have an even more comfortable, guilt-free 2 weeks ahead of me as I have completed my chore. I can be even freer than you since I do not have an unpleasant task looming ahead of me.

    "Boy this vacation hasbeen really fun and relaxing, but ugh... I have to spend a whole day grading papers before I go back."
    as opposed to
    "One more day of work, and then I'm free for two weeks..." "Boy this has been a fun and relaxing vacation. Only one more day left, but I can spend it doing whatever I choose to do."

    1. Karen -- I guess it all comes down to my ability to transcend worry. I really can shelve my responsibilities -- completely forget until it is time and still get the job done. This, is, of course, a little differenty than my forgetfulness, which leads to not making appointments I need to make. Sigh.

  2. Are you procrastinating on replying or did my email go astray? Sorry to have missed you. We loved Philadelphia

    1. Gaahh! I suppose I did procrastinate, Z! I did check my H&R email a few times, looking for your email, but then assumed that it wasn't going to work out and forgot about checking. (I don't check it much because I don't get much mail there.) I'm so disappointed we weren't able to meet up. Maybe we'll have another chance some day -- either on a repeat visit to Philly or a tour of lovely Canberra if we ever get to Australia, which we certainly hope to do.