Structured procrastination

by kath_red on 30/08/2012

in Newsletter

Procrastination: Putting off or delaying or defering an action to a later time.

Structured procrastination: To work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.

John Perry won a Ig Nobel prize [US Parody of the Nobel prize for unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research, the winners are based on “first make people laugh, and then make them think”] in literature in 2011 for his 1997 essay Structured procrastination.

An excerpt from his essay:

Structured procrastination, an amazing strategy I have discovered that converts procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all that they can accomplish and the good use they make of time. 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, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are 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 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.


This week my structured procrastination has involved re-doing illustrations, working on my crochet and folding the laundry – I need to work on my structured procrastination a little more carefully and be a more productive person. What do you do when procrastinating? I find having a list is quite handy – a list of all the things that need doing and then when I have a deadline looming that I am dreading I can get all my other things done. What would be on your list?

This is where Procrasti-crafting and Procrasti-cleaning really come into their own! How clean and organised my house it and how full my freezer is and look how my new crochet blanket is coming along when I have a deadline looming.

My list to procrastinate with

  • Coffee with friends who I rarely see, but should see more often
  • I have a long list of books I have been meaning to read
  • Stacking wood, sweeping the deck, getting rid of outside cobwebs, weeding the garden
  • Moving furniture around and vacuuming under beds and couches and rugs
  • Reorganising the pantry, the linen cupboard, the cutlery drawer
  • Refolding my fabric stash, organising my books shelf, sorting out kids clothing into too small and too old pile
  • Go to the dentist, book in that gyno-exam, clean out the filter in the washing machine

In order to not finish my current actual real looming (and in fact some long past) deadlines. oops. But some of these has finally made it to the top of the list and my guilt and sense of urgency has raised them to almost urgent status. I’ll get onto them tomorrow!

Meanwhile on whipup recently

More crafty news

  • C&T is seeking Amish inspired quilt contributions

My latest Pinterest finds and faves


oh and one more thing – do you know of anyone looking for a house in Canberra (Australia) next year – academics on sabbatical for example? Our listing is here.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sue Smith August 31, 2012 at 7:39 am

I feel so much better after reading this article! Thanks for a great blog.


2 Becky August 31, 2012 at 10:47 am

I am very much a structured procrastinator. Although some days I prefer to call it ‘multi-tasking’.


3 lheurebleue September 1, 2012 at 5:15 am

huh? you wrote my list to procrastinate with!!!


4 Procrasticraft September 4, 2012 at 7:31 am

Haha. Clean out the washing machine filter! You must have a serious deadline looming. Add more lake walks to that list – what a glorious way to spend a morning.


5 Seanna Lea September 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I usually procrastinate by playing a game or reading a book. It is rare that cleaning is my procrastination tool. Usually it is the thing I am procrastinating from.

Gosh. That sentence structure was so bad it should be taken out and flogged. Yuck.


6 rebecca September 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

love this… I think I’ll go make my structured procrastination list! :)


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