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Good news for lollygaggers

February 23, 2013


Well, strike me pretty and call me Sophia Loren. A new book, destined to become a best seller, claims that procrastination may be a good thing. 

That sound you hear is me clicking my heels as I dump my tax forms in the waste can where I keep all the important stuff. It’s my personal filing system and I typically deal with it when the can gets full.

Being a world class slacker and habitual tarrier myself, I decided to order the book. Hopefully, I’ll get around to it next week if it doesn’t rain.

This is great news for all of us slackers, lollygaggers, dawdlers, piddlers and stallers who can proudly come out of the closet and procrastinate without guilt. It can make you a better person according to John Perry, author of “The Art of Procrastination.” You can safely put off everything that can wait until tomorrow and engage in whatever it is that floats your boat at the moment.

The key idea is that procrastination does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators do all kinds of useful things. We sharpen our pencils and make diagrams of how we will reorganize our closet when we get around to it. We make endless lists of what we need to do and pick out the easy ones to do first. 

But be aware that if all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. So why do some people (me included) behave this way? Because there’s something we would rather do even if it’s just a catnap.

The book reveals that the chronic 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.

Did you follow that? You will finally make an appointment for your annual physical when faced with a deadline to get your taxes done. You’ll finally do your taxes when faced with the need to paint the house etc., etc., etc.

Apparently, mild procrastination can produce a latent energy that can lead you in new and more effective directions. So I submit that procrastination fosters creativity.

This week I decided to test the theory. I was committed to cleaning up my back court yard which has taken on a dump-like quality, the result of collecting too many things I found on the side of the road or picked up at garage sales. There’s a plethora of ravaged stuff — like that three-legged iron chair. But it was so cute and I figured I could get someone to make a forth leg for it.  It’s been eight years and I haven’t found anyone yet. 

So, I did what I could. I put it on the street for someone else to pick up and keep for another eight years. I figure this is how antiques survive into the next century, and I feel I have perform a service for future generations. In a nutshell I have become a “structured procrastinator” — a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things. 

The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you could be doing to avoid things you should be doing. Besides, you’d be really hacked off it you got your taxes paid and the house painted, only to have a wayward asteroid crash onto your corner of the world.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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