The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

No force on earth…

with 4 comments

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.
— John Perry, in his brilliant essay Structured Procrastination

Am I the only one who finds the last sentence above not a joke at all? Who has tried for months to send a single email?

(Prof. Perry’s short humorous essay is a true classic of our times, and one I have found much insight from. The trick of being able to do X simply by thinking of a more important Y has helped me many times, whenever I have remembered to apply it, and the essay helps one avoid the wrong tack of minimising commitments. Still, sometimes, there are things X to be done for which no more important Y comes to mind, and it is not clear what to do in that case.)


Written by S

Fri, 2010-03-12 at 15:27:22

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ding! Months on end to send a single email. Along with lather, rinse, repeat. If it’s a joke, it’s in rather poor taste.


    Sun, 2010-03-21 at 00:00:43

    • [Hi. :-)]

      No, I don’t think it’s a joke; he writes with the true insight and understanding of a fellow sufferer. It’s just that the truth appears funny, often. His other essay begins with “Many procrastinators do not realize that they are perfectionists, for the simple reason that they have never done anything perfectly, or even nearly so.”.


      Sun, 2010-03-21 at 11:42:00

  2. Holy shite. I’d read only the excerpt until now. The full article is scary in how uncanny it is.
    “This is not a problem, because virtually all procrastinators have excellent self-deceptive skills also.”
    “…for you non-procrastinators, I will observe that deadlines really start to press a week or two after they pass.”
    Get him out of my head, please.
    (Are we all this garden-variety? So pedestrian in our thought processes?)

    [And Hi as well. I return from my hibernation from the blagosphere. Hopefully, maybe.]


    Sun, 2010-03-21 at 14:32:33

    • Heh, “you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake”, yes. :-) [But “pedestrian” may be too strong a word; even “one in a million” refers to more than six thousand people.] I have been procrastinating by, among other things, reading about procrastination, and yes, a lot of people think alike, and a lot of others don’t understand it.

      You may find this uncanny as well:


      Sun, 2010-03-21 at 17:50:07

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: