Structured Procrastination and Perfectionism

Yes, I’m a procrastinator. Thing that I would never admit about myself just a couple of years ago, but as you grow older and more self aware, you start accepting certain aspects of your life and own behavior, regardless of how imperfect they are. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that there is absolutely nothing should be done about this, and acceptance is the only form of dealing with reality.

Almost ten years ago, when I was still fresh out of the university, sitting at work on a surprisingly sunny afternoon for Belgium, aimlessly browsing internet trying to get distracted from loads of not finished work, a colleague and a friend of mine, Solodon, stopped by my desk and told me that I absolutely must read one essay. I finished it in a couple of minutes, re-reading it over and over again after, catching more details each time. Just a couple of pages long, a truly amazing masterpiece, very humorous and easy reading essay was written by Stanford professor of philosophy, John Perry “Structured Procrastination”. The essay, which in a very playful entertaining way, suddenly opened my eyes and revealed hidden pattern of my own behavior, which my stubborn and lazy mind was trying to hide away.

And here I am, many years later, on another sunny afternoon only this time in Toronto, just like the author in his original work writing this blog post instead of doing other probably more important things, subconsciously trying to escape other tasks piling up on my desk and in my inbox. And for the same main reason – striving for perfection and postponing execution of other tasks, just so they can be done later, with desired level of attention and feeling of self accomplishment. Topic, which John Perry greatly outlined in his later essay “Procrastination and Perfectionism”.

…Why am I finally doing it? Because I finally found some uncommitted time? Wrong. I have papers to grade, textbook orders to fill out, an NSF proposal to referee, dissertation drafts to read. I am working on this essay as a way of not doing all of those things. This is the essence of what I call structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings…

3 thoughts on “Structured Procrastination and Perfectionism”

  1. You made a few good points there. I did a search about the topic and almost not got any specific details on other sites, but then great to be here, seriously, thanks.

    – Lucas

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