Article

Structured Procrastination

tenor (2)

You sang that in your head, didn’t you.

 

(staring at a blinking curser)

Hank: Mom?

Me: Yup.

Hank: I am not hungry, but I am almost hungry.

Me: (standing up and walking away from my brain fog induced writer’s block) Wonderful, I could use a bit of structured procrastination since I have absolutely no imagination today.

Hank: Structured procrastination?

Me: Yes, it is this wonderful theory by a philosopher, John Perry.  He believes that when a person prone to procrastination procrastinates effectivly with useful tasks and not passive tasks they actually achieve more rather than less overall.  So, it is my writing time and I should be putting in my four pages or four hours of writing, but today I think I need to be a structured procrastinator and start by making you lunch.

Hank: What does procrastination mean again?

Me To procrastinate is to avoid doing something that needs to be done.

Hank: Like homework?

Me: For example, Joe Gymshorts knows he has a term paper due on Friday: Monday he meets friends for coffee because he clearly has enough time to write his term paper, Tuesday he organizes his notes and then binge watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer because obviously he has LIKE two whole days to write his term paper, Wednesday, he goes on an epic date and gets lost in time, but it was totally worth it to see the way the moon made Suzie Creamcheese’s eyes sparkle…

Hank: (scoffs) Mom.

Me: Thursday he eats a well-balanced leisurely meal, gets sucked up into the drama of his roommates’ hamster’s girlfriend dying unexpectedly and then drinks seven coffees in order to stay up all night long to write his term paper which he could have devoted time to Monday-Wednesday, but procrastinated to the point where he pushed his options to the very last minute.

Hank: Oooooh, I remember now. I don’t do that.

Me: Nor do I, normally.  Your papa on the other hand practices structured procrastination religiously.  When he has a deadline looming instead of passively procrastinating with mindless or frivolous things he is motivated to write scientific papers and grants, inspired to follow-up new links and lines of research, reads obscure academic journals and emails potential collaborators… All extremely productive endeavors, but not what is required to meet his deadline so after all of his structured procrastination he is in a panic to finish the one task he has to do YET once his deadline is met your papa, THE KING Structured Procrastinator, has accomplished more than he would have otherwise.

Hank: That would stress me out.

Me: Right?! But some people thrive under pressure.

Hank: So you are going to structurally procrastinate.

Me: Nope, not anymore.  I now know what to write about.

Hank: But what about my lunch?

Me: ALL IN GOOD TIME and you said you weren’t hungry yet (walking back towards my waiting pages).

Hank: I will eat an apple, don’t worry about me.

Me: I won’t.  As a competent ten year old you are perfectly capable of making yourself a sandwich or microwaving leftovers.

Hank: Huh, does that make this apple structured procrastination eating?

Me: (yelling from behind my computer diving into my pages) Way to apply your new knowledge, pal!