My house is never so clean as when there’s some major big desk project I want to avoid. The project will get done by its due date – decades of freelancing instill that habit – and meanwhile whole closets get organized if I’m procrastinating really hard.
Stanford philosopher John Perry suggests that procrastinators quit trying to reform or clear their calendars. Instead, draw up a ranked list of things you have to do, with the most urgent at the top. The top one won’t get done, but you’ll throw yourself into other worthwhile things to avoid it. Eventually something even more urgent will come up, and you’ll turn to the previous top-ranked priority as a way to procrastinate on the new one.
“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,” Perry writes. For his answer to this and other details of his method, click here to read his entertaining and instructive article.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.