I am not an expert in many things (exceptions: lady knights, Degrassi: TNG), but I do know plenty about procrastination. Procrastination is my food. Although, when I do it, I prefer to think of it as "percolation"—like, even though I didn't manage to squeeze my assignment out until the last 20 minutes before deadline, I needed the seven preceding hours of internet Tetris and ennui for my thoughts to silently blossom and assemble. Obviously. Are you going to just dip your meat in some dishwater and call it a marinade? Fuck no! It'd be way better to sit there and stare at your meat for half a day while you pick at split ends, and then "power-marinate" it at the last minute by boiling it in vinegar and then forcibly injecting soy sauce inside with a hypodermic flavor-needle. Voila! Delicious!
But, you know, too much of a good thing and all that. I could probably use a little more type-A fire under me, just like hardcore anti-procrastinators might benefit from a little creative flexibility. And, increasingly, science is backing up the idea of "effective procrastination." Frank Partnoy at Salon offers an interesting overview of the history of procrastination, and our evolving attitudes toward it:
The percentage of people who say they procrastinate "often" has increased sixfold since 1978. Students report spending over one-third of their time procrastinating. According to some studies, nearly one in five adults is a "chronic" procrastinator. Our focus on procrastination is relentless. America really has become a "Procrasti-Nation."
But it wasn't always so. In ancient Egypt and Rome, procrastination was thought to be useful and wise. Only a handful of early writers, such as Cicero and Thucydides, admonished people not to delay. Until the mid-eighteenth century, procrastination-hating was a minority view.
Many iconic figures have been inveterate procrastinators, from St. Augustine to Leonardo da Vinci to Duke Ellington to Agatha Christie to John Huston to Bill Clinton.
Fuckin' Thucydides. I always knew that dude was a nerd. St. Augustine, though, that dude is my bro.
The prevailing wisdom, these days, is not to figure out how to not procrastinate at all, it's to figure out how to procrastinate productively—"how to work on something that is more important than the something we are not working on." So, for instance, obv you don't want to do those dishes right now (incidentally, why is it that food on plate next to sink = food, but food on plate in sink = might as well be haunted cat vomit), why not get caught up on all those naps you've been putting off? Or (true story), I know I need to finish this article, but the 8-year-old spilled her orange juice on the rug (because of MONKEY BUSINESS), so I should probably stop and teach her about cold water and blotting. Right? Effective procrastination wins again!
To get started on your career in effective procrastination, here are a couple of pro tips:
1. While you're procrastinating on reorganizing your closet, you could get a degree in neuroscience!
2. Instead of meeting with the estate lawyers to discuss your late mother's will, why not just sit and look at this gif for three days?
3. Procrastination? More like promasturbation!!!
4. Instead of going to work at your job (zzzzz)—you know all those spare monkeys you have lying around the house? Why not teach one to ride a dog? Step three: PROFIT.
5. Paint everything in your house with a coat of clear nail polish. Then chip it off. Your cat's noseholes aren't going to chip themselves!
6. Instead of cleaning out the gutters, think about this: People whose job it is to masturbate in front of a webcam...what do they do to procrastinate??? Their taxes? Ask these people if they would like to help you with your taxes.
7. Instead of making stock out of those old chicken carcasses you've been collecting, why not take a few hours to dismantle the patriarchy?
8. Masturbate again. Duh.
9. DAYTIME S'MORES.
Photo credit: PixelsAway / Stockfresh.