The Art of Procrastination

At this moment I am thinking about a current client's year-end report for 1995. I have to enter it into the computer and convert it to its web site. The server is not working well and the task seems impossible at this time. I am putting it off by writing this process analysis paper for English class. This paper seemed a daunting task until I thought of the work I must do for the client. I spent hours trying to think of what I knew well enough to explain in a step-by-step manner to others. As I proceeded to call all of my friends to get their opinions it hit me. I am a foremost authority on procrastination.

While at first this may not seem to be a skill that someone would want to develop, there is no end to the number of workshops dealing with effective time management, we need only to look at corporate America to see how well-developed procrastination skills can earn you your ticket to the top. I have deduced this through reading the Dilbert comic strip, throughout I followed Dilbert as he fills out forms in triplicate to get another pencil and other time-wasting activities. In one episode we see Dilbert go to his boss requesting $7 for a project he is working on. The boss refuses his meager request because there is no cost-benefit analysis, financial analysis or exhaustive discussion of the alternatives - amounting to months of work. By putting off making such decisions Dilbert's boss is able to avoid making mistakes or supporting less-than-vital projects. Though I knew most of the jokes, I re-read all 111 pages of the Dilbert comic book to make sure that I was using the best example. Procrastination hard at work!

The work enthusiast looking to pick up procrastination should start slowly. You may want to begin by having the television and the radio on with a good book beside you while working. It also helps to have a loved - or lusted after - one walk in wearing nothing but a tie. As you begin to get used to being distracted by others, add the final touch…imagination. Remember, you cannot always depend on outside stimuli to be there when you need to procrastinate. I learned this when I started procrastinating as a young child. Staring at a blank wall enabled my mind to roam where it pleased. With an imagination second only to Calvin and Hobbes, I was set for hours of entertainment without having to leave the chair in which I was rooted. I came to discover that outside distractions took away from my ability to procrastinate efficiently. I was, after all, the most interesting thing around. I developed my skill set well past imagination to remembering must-have things such as the stuffed lion that had been put into storage years before.

Food is also an effective tool for procrastination. Deciding that you must have lasagna at that particular moment can take away from hours of otherwise productive time. Of course you do have a nice dinner to show for your lack of effective work. In writing this paper I spent many hours exploring and developing the finer points of procrastination. It takes nothing but the desire to see if the other room has changed drastically since the last time you wandered out into it five minutes ago.

I must admit, however, that my friend Josh is a far better procrastinator than I. In order to avoid helping in clearing the table after dinner he will walk back and forth between the table and the sink seven or eight times carrying the same plate. That is the ultimate achievement of procrastination. If you can exert more effort in not accomplishing a task than it would take to actually do what needs to be done then you know that you are on you way to the Zen of procrastination.

As time goes on and you become ever more skilled, procrastination can become very useful. It becomes a way to develop creative, if otherwise useless, ideas and promotes the completion of those nagging little tasks that nobody else cares about. I have written some of my best poetry and corresponded with long-lost friends all due to procrastination. By setting one particularly long and difficult task as a priority you can accomplish no end of other stuff without realizing it in order to avoid the more pressing chore. Last semester, for example, I had a class in geomorphology that required on average ten hours of at home lab work to be done each week. I always felt that it was my most important class, being a geology major, and made that lab homework the most important part of my schedule. In those ten hours I managed to do all of my other homework, clean the kitchen and bathroom, write for the school newspaper and work a second job. Unfortunately, by always making the geomorphology lab the most important task I did not get an iota of work done for the class.

So you have spent a full month doing anything and everything to avoid finishing, err - starting, that assignment, and it is due last week. What do you do? When in a crunch the practiced procrastinator can always think up something far less pleasant and more difficult and urgent to do rather than the task at hand. I usually try to work in a room with someone whom I find highly irritating. Some times they can be hard to find therefore allowing for further procrastination. Once found, in order to avoid irritating conversation with that person I may sometimes slip and find myself slaving diligently away at the imposed assignment. As I write, my friend is in the middle of an argument with his roommate, I really do not want to have to give my opinion. Ihope they cease their bickering so that I can stop working on this gosh darn paper. Another way that a procrastinator can finally get something done is to disallow themselves a particular pleasure until the task is done. It is best to have someone else impose this on you as you may just use that very thing as an excuse to procrastinate. By the way, once that pleasure, if time dependent, has already been missed for good, it no longer works as a motive. Rather than using the missed event in question as a lesson, one will simply brood over it for many hours enabling prolonged procrastination for future projects. This may also breed contempt for the task one was trying to not accomplish, connecting it with painful memories therefore it may never get done. Thereby accomplishing the "Nirvana" of the procrastinator.

I have just spent five and a half hours working on this paper and I have not even looked at the work I must do for my client. I have listened in on two phone conversations, spent half an hour brushing my teeth, eaten twice, worked in three separate rooms and discussed the possibility of my friend moving to Chicago. Basically, my ability to procrastinate has stretched an hours worth of work into a full six hour day. Yes, in the course of this paragraph alone another half hour has passed. I can see future benefit in these habits as I plan to take up a part-time job in clock watching for the summer, if I get around to it.

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