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The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing

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This is not a book for Bill Gates. Or Hillary Clinton, or Steven Spielberg. Clearly they have no trouble getting stuff done. For the great majority of us, though, what a comfort to discover that we’re not wastrels and slackers, but doers . . . in our own way. It may sound counterintuitive, but according to philosopher John Perry, you can accomplish a lot by putting things This is not a book for Bill Gates. Or Hillary Clinton, or Steven Spielberg. Clearly they have no trouble getting stuff done. For the great majority of us, though, what a comfort to discover that we’re not wastrels and slackers, but doers . . . in our own way. It may sound counterintuitive, but according to philosopher John Perry, you can accomplish a lot by putting things off. He calls it “structured procrastination”: In 1995, while not working on some project I should have been working on, I began to feel rotten about myself. But then I noticed something. On the whole, I had a reputation as a person who got a lot done and made a reasonable contribution. . . . A paradox. Rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum. I realized that I was what I call a structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things. Celebrating a nearly universal character flaw, The Art of Procrastination is a wise, charming, compulsively readable book—really, a tongue-in-cheek argument of ideas. Perry offers ingenious strategies, like the defensive to-do list (“1. Learn Chinese . . .”) and task triage. He discusses the double-edged relationship between the computer and procrastination—on the one hand, it allows the procrastinator to fire off a letter or paper at the last possible minute; on the other, it’s a dangerous time suck (Perry counters this by never surfing until he’s already hungry for lunch). Or what may be procrastination’s greatest gift: the chance to accomplish surprising, wonderful things by not sticking to a rigid schedule. For example, Perry wrote this book by avoiding the work he was supposed to be doing—grading papers and evaluating dissertation ideas. How lucky for us.


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This is not a book for Bill Gates. Or Hillary Clinton, or Steven Spielberg. Clearly they have no trouble getting stuff done. For the great majority of us, though, what a comfort to discover that we’re not wastrels and slackers, but doers . . . in our own way. It may sound counterintuitive, but according to philosopher John Perry, you can accomplish a lot by putting things This is not a book for Bill Gates. Or Hillary Clinton, or Steven Spielberg. Clearly they have no trouble getting stuff done. For the great majority of us, though, what a comfort to discover that we’re not wastrels and slackers, but doers . . . in our own way. It may sound counterintuitive, but according to philosopher John Perry, you can accomplish a lot by putting things off. He calls it “structured procrastination”: In 1995, while not working on some project I should have been working on, I began to feel rotten about myself. But then I noticed something. On the whole, I had a reputation as a person who got a lot done and made a reasonable contribution. . . . A paradox. Rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum. I realized that I was what I call a structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things. Celebrating a nearly universal character flaw, The Art of Procrastination is a wise, charming, compulsively readable book—really, a tongue-in-cheek argument of ideas. Perry offers ingenious strategies, like the defensive to-do list (“1. Learn Chinese . . .”) and task triage. He discusses the double-edged relationship between the computer and procrastination—on the one hand, it allows the procrastinator to fire off a letter or paper at the last possible minute; on the other, it’s a dangerous time suck (Perry counters this by never surfing until he’s already hungry for lunch). Or what may be procrastination’s greatest gift: the chance to accomplish surprising, wonderful things by not sticking to a rigid schedule. For example, Perry wrote this book by avoiding the work he was supposed to be doing—grading papers and evaluating dissertation ideas. How lucky for us.

30 review for The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    This is a great little book. I should review it, but I'll probably never get around to it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Irina

    I should've been studying Latin instead of reading this. Yes, Latin is compulsory in Italy. Now do you see why I procrastinate? Jokes aside, this was very very interesting. It was a gift from my Dad - he knows me so well - and I'm grateful for that. I don't think I would have ever gotten anywhere near this book on my own - it looked too much some weird brand of that self-help shit that I despise. However, it was so very cool to see my irrational tendency not to do things when I should do them ratio I should've been studying Latin instead of reading this. Yes, Latin is compulsory in Italy. Now do you see why I procrastinate? Jokes aside, this was very very interesting. It was a gift from my Dad - he knows me so well - and I'm grateful for that. I don't think I would have ever gotten anywhere near this book on my own - it looked too much some weird brand of that self-help shit that I despise. However, it was so very cool to see my irrational tendency not to do things when I should do them rationalised and analysed by someone who knows what they're talking about, and to find some useful tips to make your procrastination more productive. I still don't think my life is going to get any easier because of this, though. You see, I don't just procrastinate; half the time, I simply do not, ever, do the things I should do. I guess my issues go a little deeper. --- Avrei dovuto studiare latino invece di leggere questo libro. Sì, il latino è obbligatorio in Italia. Ora capite perché rimando tutto? Scherzi a parte, è stato molto molto interessante. È un regalo da parte di mio padre – mi conosce così bene – e gli sono grata per questo. Non penso che mi sarei mai avvicinata a questo libro da sola – somiglia troppo a qualche strano tipo di quelle cazzate di autoaiuto che detesto. In ogni caso, è stato fantastico vedere la mia tendenza irrazionale a non fare le cose quando dovrei razionalizzata e analizzata da qualcuno che sa di che cosa sta parlando, e trovare qualche utile trucco per rendere la mia procrastinazione più produttiva. Ancora non credo, però, che la mia vita diventerà più facile grazie a questo libretto. Vedete, io non rimando solamente; la metà delle volte semplicemente non faccio quello che devo fare, punto. Immagino che i miei problemi siano un po' più profondi.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I got this book about a year ago, and I finally got around to reading it this morning. This is a quick and insightful read, and I recommend it to all my fellow procrastinators out there. I thought I was just a procrastinator, but it turns out I am a structured procrastinator (I get a lot of things done, just not the things I'm supposed to be working on (I'm also a horizontal organizer (which is where you tend to spread papers out on horizontal surfaces instead of using vertical filing cabinets) a I got this book about a year ago, and I finally got around to reading it this morning. This is a quick and insightful read, and I recommend it to all my fellow procrastinators out there. I thought I was just a procrastinator, but it turns out I am a structured procrastinator (I get a lot of things done, just not the things I'm supposed to be working on (I'm also a horizontal organizer (which is where you tend to spread papers out on horizontal surfaces instead of using vertical filing cabinets) and I suffer from right-parenthesis deficit disorder (if you want to find out what that means, you'll have to read the book...(I'm surprising myself by writing this review, but I'm doing it instead of working on homework right now (I have two group projects and a bunch of stats problems to work on))))(<-haha! the right parentheses appear!). Perry talks about how to harness the power of procrastination to get things done, like making to-do lists and then waiting for things to fall off the lists because they sit on them for so long that they become irrelevant or someone else takes care of them for you. The chapters are short and his voice is very conversational. He discusses the many ways that procrastination affects his life and interactions with other people. I found myself laughing aloud at least once per chapter. For a 'philosophical' book, it is not at all daunting, and is extremely approachable. If you're a procrastinator, I think you will find some insightful words and ideas in this small book. So, when you can get around to it, pick up a copy, and then find the time to read it (particularly when you should be doing something else!).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Netta

    Hilarious, not utterly useless book which helped me realise I'm not at all a procrastinator.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: Quick little guide for understanding the structured procrastinator and horizontal organizer, whether you are one or know someone who is. I did like Perry's respective musings and explanations, though I'll admit I didn't really learn much that I didn't already know about procrastination (and I'll admit I'm guilty of it myself). Still, I think this book is worth picking up just to see Perry's thoughts on the matter, and he does give good resources/thoughts about the subject. Full Initial reaction: Quick little guide for understanding the structured procrastinator and horizontal organizer, whether you are one or know someone who is. I did like Perry's respective musings and explanations, though I'll admit I didn't really learn much that I didn't already know about procrastination (and I'll admit I'm guilty of it myself). Still, I think this book is worth picking up just to see Perry's thoughts on the matter, and he does give good resources/thoughts about the subject. Full review: *at a simulated Proclaiming Procrastinators meeting* Me: I'm Rose Summers, and I'm a structural procrastinator. Group: Hi Rose! Me: I've been a structural procrastinator since I was about...mmm...maybe five or six. My mother would give me a list of things to do in order and I would jump and do other things on that list before the number 1 item. She would often ask me "Why didn't you do it in the order I gave them to you?" I would think "I did them in what seemed the most interesting way to do them. Wouldn't it be fine as long as they're done?" Me: Though I was scolded many a time and eventually did adopt an orderly sense to following what people assigned to me, when it came down to structuring my own goals and priorities, I fell back into that pattern. It made more sense to do other things quickly and what I was invested in, though I would be putting off something that needed to be done as well. They were all important to me, just a matter of doing them. Group: Hear, hear! Me: I'm glad to say I've found a book that makes me feel like I'm not alone and better about being one of the group. So who's with me? Group: MEEEE! *end meeting* ... Okay, I have to be serious now, but at least you know a little more about where I come from in terms of this particular attribute of mine. XD John Perry's "The Art of Procrastination" is a fun read, but also enlightening on some levels. It addresses the measure of structural procrastination and horizontal organization in different dimensions, giving insight to the author's own experiences as well as ways of coming to terms with it. To be honest, there wasn't much about this book that I didn't already know about the nature of procrastination, but it was helpful to get such a personal perspective on it and have all of that information put in one place. It also helped that this book does not alienate the procrastinator. In other words, it gives insight to those who are procrastinators on how to use it to work for you, rather than saying "You're W.R.O.N.G and need to C.H.A.N.G.E." I found Perry's voice funny in spurts and the prose easy to understand. Actually, this was a fairly quick read and well organized for each particular dimension of the conversation he took on. The resources towards the end where even helpful (provided that some are for those who may decide that the procrastinating lifestyle isn't for them.) I suppose what kept this from being more than my respective rating for the novel was that it did feel all too brief and there wasn't much that I learned beyond what I use and consider with respect to my own procrastinating habits. I imagine for those who may procrastinate and may feel guilty and haven't read much literature that sets the usefulness of that trait, this would probably serve as a more helpful read. I did like Perry's insightfulness and expansions, though, and this would be a neat little book to keep in a collection for those who are curious on the subject matter. I enjoyed it and certainly would recommend it for what it offered. Overall score: 3.5/5 Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Workman.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt Diephouse

    This book was short, light-hearted, and interesting. A pretty terrific combo. A summary of the contents, by chapter: 1. Procrastinators can still get things done. Practice "structured procrastination", where you avoid some large, actually unimportant task by completing other, actually important tasks. 2. Procrastination is often caused by a desire to do something perfectly. Give yourself permission to do merely an adequate job on something and you may find the time to do it. 3. To-do lists are an ef This book was short, light-hearted, and interesting. A pretty terrific combo. A summary of the contents, by chapter: 1. Procrastinators can still get things done. Practice "structured procrastination", where you avoid some large, actually unimportant task by completing other, actually important tasks. 2. Procrastination is often caused by a desire to do something perfectly. Give yourself permission to do merely an adequate job on something and you may find the time to do it. 3. To-do lists are an effective way to encourage you to get things done. Make a list the night before with some easy items so you can get in the habit of accomplishing. 4. Upbeat music can be a helpful motivator if you're in need of motivation. Try listening to something upbeat when you want to get things done. 5. Computers can both help and hurt procrastination. Email in particular is hard. 6. Embrace the fact that you may need to organize a task by laying it out in front of you. Don't feel bad if you leave your work on your desk as a reminder to do it. 7. Collaborate with non-procrastinators. You may be able to play off each others' strengths. 8. Sometimes procrastinating lets you avoid work altogether if it becomes important. So that's pretty cool. But procrastination still isn't great. 9. Structured procrastinators don't need to be annoying. 10. Procrastination sometimes lets you accomplish great things that you may have otherwise not prioritized.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Hi, my name is Michael, and I'm a procrastinator. So when I heard about this book from a friend, I felt a brief flame of hope that this would help me conquer what ails me, finish my dissertation in a timely manner, and ride off into the sunset in a blaze of glory. Or something like that. This book is mostly an affirmation of the idea that you can be procrastinator and still get things done. Perry introduces the theory of 'structured procrastination', based on Robert Benchley's quip that "Anyone c Hi, my name is Michael, and I'm a procrastinator. So when I heard about this book from a friend, I felt a brief flame of hope that this would help me conquer what ails me, finish my dissertation in a timely manner, and ride off into the sunset in a blaze of glory. Or something like that. This book is mostly an affirmation of the idea that you can be procrastinator and still get things done. Perry introduces the theory of 'structured procrastination', based on Robert Benchley's quip that "Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing." You make a to do list, set something huge and cosmic and unattainable at the top, and then while procrastinating on that do all the little things you need to do. It's a decent enough idea, and I look forward to trying it out, but there's not much else in the book; just some anecdotal advice and half-hearted affirmations that its okay to procrastinate. I finished it in about a half hour, looked up, and said "Is that it? I payed $10 for that?" I feel burned by the short length. Maybe it's just better to poke around Perry's website http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nadja

    I'll read it tomorrow

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    Looking for a self help book to help you become less of a procrastinator? Don't look here! Inside you will find, instead, a short quick read that will assure you that it's okay to procrastinate, because while putting off one task you are usually completing another task, and really isn't that what being productive is all about? Perry does give one tip for helping the procrastinator manage life more easily - to do lists. Guess who's got a to do list right in front of her that was made before this Looking for a self help book to help you become less of a procrastinator? Don't look here! Inside you will find, instead, a short quick read that will assure you that it's okay to procrastinate, because while putting off one task you are usually completing another task, and really isn't that what being productive is all about? Perry does give one tip for helping the procrastinator manage life more easily - to do lists. Guess who's got a to do list right in front of her that was made before this book was read? That's right, I do! And guess who hasn't crossed a single thing off of it yet? That's right, this girl! Instead I've been busy checking my email, writing reviews, and looking up words on thesaurus.com. See, putting off work has made me a more productive human being already.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    This was a fun read, with some of the essays being better for me than others. This is philosophy light, as in it's easy to understand. Like all of philosophy, there is plenty to argue with if you don't agree. It is impossible to have a world where philosophers all agree, but this is a fun one. As a procrastinator who is fond of the idea that creative people are usually procrastinators, I thought his ideas about structured procrastination interesting. I related completely to how books on how to o This was a fun read, with some of the essays being better for me than others. This is philosophy light, as in it's easy to understand. Like all of philosophy, there is plenty to argue with if you don't agree. It is impossible to have a world where philosophers all agree, but this is a fun one. As a procrastinator who is fond of the idea that creative people are usually procrastinators, I thought his ideas about structured procrastination interesting. I related completely to how books on how to organize your life and no longer procrastinate fail to take into account the horizontal filer--out of sight, out of mind, or perhaps, filed in a cabinet, project finished. I own a myriad of things to help me organize, but by far the most beautifully organized parts of my life are my filing cabinets and drawers--Martha Stewart would be impressed. But I don't go into my filing cabinets to take out work that needs to be done unless it's time for FAFSA applications. I am glad to have read this but no doubt will have forgotten much of it in a year. I hope to remember just enough to profit by it and become more effective with my time again.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jaye

    Exellent marketing of this book. It's small in every way. I didn't have to put off reading it at all. And it had me expanding my "to-do" list so I can cross off more things I've done in order to pat myself on the back more often.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chiblutis

    A good, quick read for when you're procrastinating reading other, bigger books!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marie-paule

    not much in this book. ok some people never get anything done and would be real proscratinators ... there are probably a few of them, there is survival instinct that keeps everybody moving and do something to keep alive ! then there are the structured proscratinators, a new concept, for the ones that get things done but not exactly the things they should be doing ...this is so broad now that anybody can feel a bit in this category for posponing doing things they don't want to do ...and yes it's not much in this book. ok some people never get anything done and would be real proscratinators ... there are probably a few of them, there is survival instinct that keeps everybody moving and do something to keep alive ! then there are the structured proscratinators, a new concept, for the ones that get things done but not exactly the things they should be doing ...this is so broad now that anybody can feel a bit in this category for posponing doing things they don't want to do ...and yes it's good to have to do list, do some planning with milestones and reminders, and work with others to stimulate yourself and team up with people that even if they also postpone things for themselves, will feel more responsible because they work with you and feel useful ! all good stuff but I was expecting a bit more content, analysis, advice, methods ...it is not a self-help book, more a philosophical paper to say no drama, no need to blame yourself, instead focus a bit, team up with a good Buddy and get some stuff you care about done !

  14. 4 out of 5

    Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea

    Perry wrote a short and sweet little book about structured procrastination. It reminded me of my professor's essay on gossip in college--kind of an ethics of everyday life mixed with a little humor. I think he starts out strong, by the middle i felt like he made procrastinators out to be a bit shallow/manipulative, and then finished ok. Quick read, accessible, and I felt like most of it was thoughtfully written. Like I said, in the middle or so, he kind of comes off, maybe, a little smug, which Perry wrote a short and sweet little book about structured procrastination. It reminded me of my professor's essay on gossip in college--kind of an ethics of everyday life mixed with a little humor. I think he starts out strong, by the middle i felt like he made procrastinators out to be a bit shallow/manipulative, and then finished ok. Quick read, accessible, and I felt like most of it was thoughtfully written. Like I said, in the middle or so, he kind of comes off, maybe, a little smug, which doesn't quite work with the rest of the tone of the book. enjoy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    This is a diverting and amusing short piece on the virtues of 'The Art of Procrastination.' Couched among its humorous jests and personal anecdotes are some interesting ruminations and advice on how the procrastinator can channel their natural tendencies towards increased productivity without needing to combat their essential nature as a procrastinator. Amusing stuff, and well worth a read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I really want to read this, but think I'll wait for a week, or two, or three...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lpeterso

    What would you expect to find in a book about procrastination? Well, for starters, you wouldn't expect a tome on the subject; maybe something more along the lines of a pamphlet would be about right. Perhaps a little bit of an explanation of the pros and cons of procrastination. Maybe some tips about how to do it less. Yes? If you are a person who sometimes feels guilty for procrastinating this is a little gem that may help you find the silver lining, and maybe even make that silver lining bigger. What would you expect to find in a book about procrastination? Well, for starters, you wouldn't expect a tome on the subject; maybe something more along the lines of a pamphlet would be about right. Perhaps a little bit of an explanation of the pros and cons of procrastination. Maybe some tips about how to do it less. Yes? If you are a person who sometimes feels guilty for procrastinating this is a little gem that may help you find the silver lining, and maybe even make that silver lining bigger. How's that possible? Perry, who is a philosophy professor at Stanford, points out that sometimes the work that a person does is actually a way of procrastinating. Take this hypothetical list of tasks: 1) Learn to speak Chinese 2) Plan your next family vacation 3) Empty the dishwasher 4) return your neighbor's chainsaw 5) pair up the unmatched sock drawer Item number one could take a lifetime to accomplish. Item two could take several hours, could involve conflict and negotiation, and might not be able to be completed in one day. Items 3, 4, and 5, though, are certainly manageable tasks. They could be interrupted but are restarted easily. By pursuing those items lower on the list MANY items on the list get checked off. A person might feel guilty that the items at the top of the list aren't getting done, but a considerable number of items lower on the list are being completed. The "structured procrastinator" is thus completing a significant number of tasks and could be said to be highly productive. Don't you feel better already? There's also the adage that says "don't put off to tomorrow that which could be done today". The procrastinator's corollary is something along the lines of "don't do today that which might not be necessary tomorrow". For instance, someone asks you to write a letter of reference. You could sit down and begin immediately. Or, you could wait until someone actually requests the document from you. What if another reference-letter writer is johnny on the spot and provides the needed input? You're off the hook, you didn't let your colleague down, and you got to keep your Saturday. Found time!! Perry also discusses some of the surprises that he, as a procrastinator, has encountered when working with colleagues who are more motivated by, say, deadlines. He describes the experience of co-authoring a paper with someone who prefers to make an outline, flesh out the specific content of paragraphs, and then edit the overall project for consistency in voice. What a bizarre approach! The procrastinator was expected to submit content at roughly the same time and this was a challenge to their friendship. Go figure! If you are a procrastinator or if you work/live with/love someone who is, this book could provide some helpful insights. But perhaps you should wait until tomorrow. Maybe you won't need to read it after all. If you get around to it, perhaps as a way to avoid studying Chinese, I think you'll enjoy it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Pang

    As a structured procrastinator myself, I read this book with the intention of putting off a more important video editing project; additionally, writing this review is yet another lower priority task. I had originally procrastinated reading this book and found it fitting that a procrastinator’s self help book was concise and thin (the very reason I started the book in the first place) and for that I am incredibly thankful. John Perry’s book was insightful and a light comedic read. I throughly enjoy As a structured procrastinator myself, I read this book with the intention of putting off a more important video editing project; additionally, writing this review is yet another lower priority task. I had originally procrastinated reading this book and found it fitting that a procrastinator’s self help book was concise and thin (the very reason I started the book in the first place) and for that I am incredibly thankful. John Perry’s book was insightful and a light comedic read. I throughly enjoyed it; however, like he states, it is not to cure to procrastination, but a book to make us structured procrastinators feel slightly better about ourselves. The references (such as music recommendations) are slightly out of date, but the anecdotes and concepts are still relatable nevertheless. Now with a better understanding as to defining my own procrastination and some effective tools such as self deceit, I now proceed to organizing my email!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I honestly cannot remember when I had that much fun with a book. And on top of that, it gave me a refreshing new perspective on procrastination that I found helpful even though I would not call myself a procrastinator. A quick read that's absolutely worth it!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    Pretty fun and interesting, even if I don't think it can help that much. Then again, I don't really expect a book to change things on the way I love my life (or at least not this type of book hahaha), so I'm not disappointed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ivan Tchernev

    A cute, quick little read designed to make procrastinators feel better about life. Appropriately, I'm reviewing this rather than work on something else I should be doing. Better get back to it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Helen Hnin

    A short little book full of light-hearted notes. It's definitely interesting. I love that the author doesn't tell you to change anything about yourself. Which is good because I don't want to change myself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vilde

    I liked the book, but I am glad this guy is not a part of my life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Guang Hao Chong

    An easy to read book. If it was any thicker, I would surely have procrastinated reading to the end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    John

    This reader must admit that the word "mañana," Spanish for "tomorrow," is a beautiful term. It even has a nice ring to it. Yet I must agree with author John Perry. As he says in his book The Art of Procrastination , and subtitled A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, there is a fine art to this. In fact, most good dawdlers at least aspire to be structured procrastinators, and Dr. Perry does a good job of explaining this in his book. The title to this book may sound funny, This reader must admit that the word "mañana," Spanish for "tomorrow," is a beautiful term. It even has a nice ring to it. Yet I must agree with author John Perry. As he says in his book The Art of Procrastination , and subtitled A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, there is a fine art to this. In fact, most good dawdlers at least aspire to be structured procrastinators, and Dr. Perry does a good job of explaining this in his book. The title to this book may sound funny, and much of it is quite witty, but right in the introduction we learn of philosophical concept of "akrasia," which is the state of acting against one's better judgment. Why do people decide to do other than what they think is best for them to do? Both of the great ancient philosophers Plato and Aristotle pondered this, so it's nothing new. Seize the day... tomorrow. Perry begins his first chapter with a discussion on "Structured Procrastination" and the logic behind the concept. We all do it; we put off doing things that we have to. We may fiddle on the computer, poke around on Facebook, or read Amazon reviews posted by others (like you're doing right now) instead of getting that expense report completed or washing the dishes. We have deadlines, and then find all sorts of diversions to push them back. In fact, my review here is a personal example of lollygagging, but more on that later. Most of us feel at least somewhat bad about being dawdlers, and in many cases are aware that it can be annoying to others as well. But if you put in a small amount of effort, you can be a structured procrastinator, and once you start feeling awkward or guilty about it, you can actually get a lot done, as the author illustrates in this small but effective book. "To-Do Lists" is the title of the third chapter, and it offers some interesting food for thought when one starts to look at prioritization and breaking things down to small increments. Dr. Perry shows us his personal list used for the following day before he goes to bed, and one cannot help but smile at it along with his following comments. The he goes on to show his expanded list, which will still make you smile, but it makes a lot of sense, especially in his somewhat comical numbered morning computer tasks. The chapter entitled "The Computer and the Procrastinator" is one that will ring true with many, and for this reader the ideas presented here were worth the cost of admission. For the many of us who probably do spend an amazing amount of time on the 'Net, the author's points include some excellent ideas well worth considering. And where procrastinators can often be annoying to others, there are solutions for this. This book is a fast read, yet for this reader it was one where I found more Post-It notes than I might have originally imagined before I started it. When I pulled the bookmarks to the witty passages, that still left about two-thirds of them, because there's some real meat here. I must admit that my review here is an example of efficient dawdling: I received this book as an advance copy months ago as a result of an inquiry that I made at the Book Expo America Show in New York in June 2012. The publisher shipped the advance copy of this book quickly, yet my own procrastinating has resulted in my posting this review now. I have purchased another copy here for myself. I've pulled all of my personal bookmarks out of my original advance copy, and am going to make it a second-hand gift to a particular individual that can probably use the advice in the pages here. I would have gifted a new copy, but I'm still waiting for two previously loaned books and a small piece of camera gear to be returned. If that individual reads this and uses the book the way that I hope, then maybe this will be a mild prod, a gentle reminder to not lollygag about returning things. In any case, this one will be gifted to others as well, and not just because of the witty title. Seize the day... tomorrow will be soon enough. • 8/26/2012

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura Davis

    Quick easy read, amusing & some insights. A few ideas on how to manage your worst procrastinator tendencies. Mostly a lighthearted read without serious attempt at reform, meant to make you feel less awful about yourself. I read it while avoiding looking for work and de-cluttering. Apparently I need a big faux-urgent goal for the top of my to-do list so I can get things done while avoiding the largest task. So... I could write a novel? Learn to fly? Train for a triathlon? So many choices to consi Quick easy read, amusing & some insights. A few ideas on how to manage your worst procrastinator tendencies. Mostly a lighthearted read without serious attempt at reform, meant to make you feel less awful about yourself. I read it while avoiding looking for work and de-cluttering. Apparently I need a big faux-urgent goal for the top of my to-do list so I can get things done while avoiding the largest task. So... I could write a novel? Learn to fly? Train for a triathlon? So many choices to consider. I’ll decide tomorrow.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by [consciously] not doing other [important] things. This book didn't exactly change my life, but it made me feel better about what I was already doing. (Before, I'd been calling it slingshot akrasia.) Structured procrastination is that staple from stand-up comedy where the best way to get yourself to tidy your entire house is to sit down to do your taxes. : All of my reviews, all of my essays were written in the glow and shadow of other thin structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by [consciously] not doing other [important] things. This book didn't exactly change my life, but it made me feel better about what I was already doing. (Before, I'd been calling it slingshot akrasia.) Structured procrastination is that staple from stand-up comedy where the best way to get yourself to tidy your entire house is to sit down to do your taxes. : All of my reviews, all of my essays were written in the glow and shadow of other things I should've been doing. All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, such as gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they find the time. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because accomplishing these tasks is a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him to do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely, and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important... Doing those tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, you can become a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done. Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this approach ignores the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be, by definition, the most important. And the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is the way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being... The second step in the art of structured procrastination is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list. The ideal projects have two characteristics -- they seem to have clear deadlines (but really don't), and they seem awfully important (but really aren't). Luckily, life abounds with such tasks. At universities, the vast majority of tasks fall into those two categories, and I'm sure the same is true for most other institutions... At this point, the observant reader may feel that structured procrastination requires a certain amount of self-deception, since one is, in effect, constantly perpetrating a pyramid scheme on oneself. Exactly... what could be more noble than using one character flaw to offset the effects of another? -- Work and study pressurise my life. They give me a structure to defy, a gravity assist. I am happiest laden with obligations, when the set of tasks that is my life flies just out of control. I think the mechanism is this: 1. I require a steady stream of variety. 2. Having a job makes my days closely resemble each other. 3. Intolerable resentment. I am forced to produce creative sparks to satisfy my basic drive. SP is related to how great I feel when I don't have to go to a party, to my sadly efficient approach to grades, to how giving work to a busy person is a good way of getting it done quicker, i.e. an implausible linear increase of output with increasing things to do. I read more fiction when doing a stats degree and learn more stats when in work. --- Antecedents of Perry and me. Fernando Pessoa: I often wonder what kind of person I would be if I had been protected from the cold wind of fate by the screen of wealth... to reach the tawdry heights of being a good assistant book-keeper in a job that is about as demanding as an afternoon nap and offers a salary that gives me just enough to live on. I know that, had that past existed, I would not now be capable of writing these pages, which, though few, I would undoubtedly have only day-dreamed, given more comfortable circumstances. For banality is a form of intelligence, and reality, especially if it is brutish and rough, forms a natural complement to the soul. Much of what I feel and think I owe to my work as a book-keeper since the former exists as a negation of and flight from the latter. Nietzsche: the struggle against the ecclesiastical oppression of millenniums of Christianity... produced in Europe a magnificent tension of soul, such as had not existed anywhere previously; with such a tensely-strained bow one can now aim at the furthest goals... we have it still, all the distress of spirit and all the tension of its bow! And perhaps also the arrow, the duty, and, who knows? The goal to aim at... Geoff Dyer: The best circumstance for writing, I realized... were those in which the world was constantly knocking at your door; in such circumstances, the work you were engaged in generated a kind of pressure, a force to keep the world at bay. Whereas here, on Alonissos, there was nothing to keep at bay, there was no incentive to generate any pressure within the work, and so the surrounding emptiness invaded and dissipated, overwhelmed you with inertia. All you could do was look at the sea and the sky and after a couple of days you could scarcely be bothered to do that. Zach Weiner: [After months of working only on my main goal] I took on a job doing closed captioning because I found it [made for] an easier time writing. Just something about talking to people and watching weird media made the writing a lot easier. My new theory of self was that you can't write well unless you have a little strife in your life. I worked at the closed captioning job for 4-6 months and by then I was making enough money on the site to responsibly quit my job. The problem was I didn't want to quit my job and have readership fall off because I couldn't write, so my crazy idea was to go back to school. I thought, it'd to be this weird environment, with younger people, and that would be good... --- Is this platitudinous? It is possible that the grand narration above is delusional, and that the only actual content here is "A lot of people work better under pressure". Don't think so though. YMMV. 5/5 if you don't do this already.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    Published by HighBridge Audio in 2012 Read by Brian Holsopple Duration: 1 hour, 48 minutes Are you the kind of person who has the best of intentions but continually puts important projects aside to do other things? Is your work environment organized horizontally (stuff spread all over the desk, open chairs and any other flat surface) rather than vertically (in a filing cabinet)? Do you find that even though you put things off you still get a whole lot of stuff done - just not the stuff that you wer Published by HighBridge Audio in 2012 Read by Brian Holsopple Duration: 1 hour, 48 minutes Are you the kind of person who has the best of intentions but continually puts important projects aside to do other things? Is your work environment organized horizontally (stuff spread all over the desk, open chairs and any other flat surface) rather than vertically (in a filing cabinet)? Do you find that even though you put things off you still get a whole lot of stuff done - just not the stuff that you were supposed to get done? If any of these descriptions sound like you than you should check out this audiobook. I have to admit, all of those descriptions describe me. Right now I am writing a review of a fun audiobook rather than writing one of a book I read three weeks ago that was not a particularly well done book. But, I am writing and that means one more book review will be checked off of my "to-do" list. John Perry is a philosophy professor at Stanford. What started out as a fun little essay he wrote when he was supposed to be doing something else has blossomed into a movement (see the essay by clicking here) which goes to prove what Perry has purported for years - Procrastination is not as bad as it is cracked up to be... Read more at: http://dwdsreviews.blogspot.com/2012/...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I received an ARC of this book via Twitter contest, then promptly put it on my shelf of owned TBR material. The book kept gnawing at the back of my head - of course I should read it, they were nice enough to send it to me, they'd love the feedback, it's a short enough little tome... So FINALLY I read it and saw myself in nearly every page - which is a bit embarrassing. I did find quite a few useful tips for actually accomplishing things that I'd heretofore put off: I very much enjoyed the bird-b I received an ARC of this book via Twitter contest, then promptly put it on my shelf of owned TBR material. The book kept gnawing at the back of my head - of course I should read it, they were nice enough to send it to me, they'd love the feedback, it's a short enough little tome... So FINALLY I read it and saw myself in nearly every page - which is a bit embarrassing. I did find quite a few useful tips for actually accomplishing things that I'd heretofore put off: I very much enjoyed the bird-by-bird section, which should have been common sense but then when faced with a mountainous task, reason rarely engages itself, does it? And the idea of simply putting off a job until it's possibly no longer required? This never occurred to me to be a viable accomplishment but now I can see that if the job is gone, no matter the method, then one could consider it "accomplished," at least in terms of not having wasted energy on a useless task. This book definitely made me feel better and less guilty about getting "the wrong" things done, especially if they're not the things on top of my priority list.

  30. 5 out of 5

    George Bradford

    John Perry is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Stanford University and co-host of the syndicated public radio program "Philosophy Talk". He is the author and editor of several books and countless articles that can be accurately described as 'hard core academic philosophy'. Professor Perry achieved an esteemed academic career (industriously teaching, writing and publishing) in spite of being what can accurately be described as a 'hard core procrastinator'. How? "The Art of Procrastination" expl John Perry is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Stanford University and co-host of the syndicated public radio program "Philosophy Talk". He is the author and editor of several books and countless articles that can be accurately described as 'hard core academic philosophy'. Professor Perry achieved an esteemed academic career (industriously teaching, writing and publishing) in spite of being what can accurately be described as a 'hard core procrastinator'. How? "The Art of Procrastination" explains it. And, in the process, John Perry strikes a decisive blow against the guilt many procrastinators (like me) suffer. In Perry's view procrastination is not a negative. Quite the contrary. Procrastination, properly understood and artfully utilized, is a gift. In addition to being a procrastinator of the highest order, Professor Perry is also hilariously insightful. And his book is a laugh riot. I had the distinct honor of introducing John Perry at the 2012 Decatur Book Festival. So, prior to meeting Professor Perry, I read this sweet little book. And it was a very enjoyable read.

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