The Power of Procrastination

Are you a procrastinator? Do you find yourself doing all sorts of things to avoid doing something you have to do?

For example, when you should be revising for an exam you keep finding other things to do which you convince yourself are essential and have to be done right now, such as cleaning, putting your books/CDs/DVDs into alphabetical order, researching the origins of knitting, or whatever.

I certainly do this – at times I can be a prolific procrastinator. I try to study a bit of at least one language every day, for example, but often find excuses not to, and other things to do that seem more important. The kinds of things I do instead of studying include working on Omniglot, playing music, singing, writing tunes and songs, juggling, reading, shopping, gardening, and cleaning and tidying. I do enjoy discovering and exploring languages, but sometimes find the process of studying them a bit tedious.

Maybe if I set myself another task that I don’t really want to do or find difficult, such as setting up databases, then I would end up studying languages as an alternative displacement activity. That is, I could embrace the power of procrastination.

One thought on “The Power of Procrastination

  1. (I guess other potential commenters decided to procrastinate instead of replying!)

    There’s something to be said for the right kind of procrastination; I vaguely recall a line from someone — maybe E.B. White? — about a successful life being one in which you never do what you’re “supposed” to be doing. (The implication being that what you do instead is more important, and is kept from turning into drudgery by the fact that it always represents an escape.)

    For another example, chess grandmaster Mark Taimanov is also a concert pianist, and has remarked that “when I gave concerts I was taking a rest from chess and when I played chess, I was resting from the piano. As a result, my whole life has been one long holiday!”

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