Never Do Today What You Can Do Tomorrow:

Why Procrastination Is Highly Efficient

By Shlomo Maital   


 Are you a procrastinator?  Do you try to put off to tomorrow (or next year) what should be done today?  I am.  I think this is connected to my advocacy of wasting time, and creating empty do-nothing time.  Procrastination helps a lot.

  Now comes psychological evidence that we putter-offers are actually efficient.

  Today’s Health and Science column in the NYT by John Tierney cites a 2011 book (should have been published in 2009 but the author put it off) by Univ. of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel, “The Procrastination Equation”.  He surveyed more than 24,000 people around the world, and found that 95 per cent confess to at least some procrastination!  This is five times the rate in the 1970s.  Why has procrastination grown?  Because, clearly, modern living has created so many more burdensome things to do. Also, Steel says workplace flexibility is responsible – workers spend a fourth of the day procrastinating, because they can, and students spend a third of the day putting things off.  Men (this is SO so obvious) are far greater procrastinators than women, especially young men.

   So, why is procrastination a good thing?  Simple.  It’s the humorist Robert Benchley’s principle: “anyone can do any amount of work…provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.”  This is very subtle. In other words – to avoid work we don’t want to do, we do some other work.  And therefore, because that OTHER work is often highly productive, procrastination as a strategy works fantastically. 

    So, the recipe?  Find something you simply do NOT NOT want to do right now.  Then, find something to do, so that you do not HAVE to do that onerous job.  And always always have the procrastination job or task uppermost in your mind. It will keep you busy doing other stuff, good stuff, so you don’t have to do the bad stuff.

    Manipulative?  Sure.  Most good strategies for getting things done manipulate are inner base motives.  It’s internal psychological gamesmanship – me against me. 

   By the way, I should have written this blog earlier – but I put it off.