Procrastination Made Perfect

To meet a deadline, I give myself a daily assignment—then fritter the morning away with email, housecleaning, and Spider Solitaire. When it becomes apparent I’ll be up late unless I get to work, I open a word processing file and begin.

Piers Steel, a Canadian industrial psychologist and University of Calgary professor, recently completed a 10-year-study on procrastination that was supposed to be completed in five years. He discovered that procrastination makes people poorer, fatter, and unhappier.

A wise person knows better than to procrastinate if you are sick. Go to the doctor. If you spot a leak, call a plumber. If you notice raging flames, dial 911. Delay will only compound obvious problems.

Yet in other areas procrastination has undeniable benefits. Creativity often needs time to flex its muscles, so if you hit a wall while working on a perplexing problem, stop. Take a walk, play Minesweeper, file a fingernail. The more mindless the activity, the more brain cells remain available to your subconscious—and deep within that gray matter is where your answer is often found.

When it’s time to work, be diligent. If you do put off writing, use procrastination to your advantage.

React: How do you beat—or use—procrastination?

Photo: Angela HuntIf it’s lunchtime, Angela Hunt is probably settling in to work. Finally. Visit her online—but try not to distract her.

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