Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review Tuesday: 'Later'

Today’s ‘Review Tuesday'. I bet you have one. I certainly have. In my head. A list of things I should do: plant seedlings, mow orchard, sweep floor, wash car. Et cetera. But I’m a procrastinator [1, 2]. I’m not good at much, but I’m good at procrastinating. James Surowiecki’s review article – titled ‘Later’ – in the 11 October New Yorker [3] focuses on procrastination. He writes that it’s always been a basic human impulse, but anxiety about it has emerged only quite recently: the percentage of people who admitted to procrastination troubles quadrupled between 1978 and 2002. So it’s quintessentially modern. And a powerful example of a Greek word akrasia, i.e. doing something against one’s better judgment. Though delay makes us worse off, delay we do. Conversely, it’s not procrastination if the delay’s not detrimental. We often procrastinate not by doing fun tasks, but by doing tasks whose only allure’s that they aren’t what we should be doing. And when we put off something by telling ourselves we’ll do it tomorrow, we overlook that tomorrow the temptation to put it off will be just as strong. Procrastinators know all too well the allures of the salient present, and they want to resist them. They just don’t. The solution (assuming we want one)? In essence, imposing limits and narrowing options. More organisation, and a ‘to do’ list, may help. And importantly, ensuring all items on the ‘to do’ list are worth doing. If you’re a procrastinator, you’d do well to read Surowiecki’s article. Now.


Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Procrastination? oh I'll comment tomorrow.

farmdoc said...

Very droll, Chrows25.
As a reward for your wit, I'm promoting you to the rank of Chrows26 - but only until tomorrow.