Leave it to the last minute

Why procrastination makes for wiser decisions.

When faced with complex but not life threatening challenges, procrastination is a skill worth fostering.

Photo by Moodywalk on Unsplash

The key distinction is if the work is complex or not.

If the work is simple, discrete and concrete—then procrastination is probably not a blessing. In the industrial era, work was fairly formulaic and predictable. Our views on ‘productivity’ are still heavily influenced by this era.

If it is complex, nebulous and conceptual—then you would hope that there was room for procrastination in your work. In the postindustrial (digital) era, formulaic and predictable work is being increasingly replaced with automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s the complex work that is harder to replace—and this work benefits from procrastination.

Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Procrastination allows more time to consider more perspectives. Because our own perspective is limited, any potential pathways to progress through a complex challenge can only be seen through one particular vantage point. But with procrastination we give ourselves the chance to consider the challenge from more perspectives—thus offering more angles to which we can ‘see’ a better way forward. The agony of indecision is the precursor to a better decision (and future coherence).
  2. Procrastination allows more time to navigate conflicting values. The reason we hesitate with some ideas is that we may have a hidden competing commitment. Or rather: multiple nebulous values that do not necessarily align with the obvious answer or the quick and easy fix. Hence, procrastination grants us more time to reflect and introspect, so that we might find a path that better aligns to our values (and future congruence).
  3. Procrastination allows for more effective use of time. Parkinson’s Law states that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’. This means that, by the time we actually get to the work itself, our ‘active procrastination’ will have already progressed our thinking in many subtle yet significant ways. The background benefits of procrastination are why we can afford to leave things to the last minute. In this way, procrastination saves us from wasted effort and poorer decisions.

There’s more to this, of course. And I may expand on this in a future post. In the meantime, know that procrastination is not ‘bad’ – especially if you are working in complex domains.

On the contrary—procrastination is a boon; the hallmark of perspicacity, wit and wisdom.

I’m on some fool quest to share 50 insights in 50 days. This is day 9. More at drjasonfox.com

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A Solarpunk Wizard // drjasonfox.com ✨

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