The Art of Procrastination

John Perry and John Perry

right-parenthesis deficit disorder.

A few hours later I’m done setting up the proxy server. Most likely I am done because I have given up.

A colleague says plaintively at some point, “I’d like to access JSTOR from home, but I don’t have the proxy server set up.” “Oh,” I exclaim jauntily, “I set mine up a couple of weeks ago. Works great.” “How did you ever find the time?” he asks admiringly. I don’t reply, but look smug.

You have to get into the habit of forcing yourself to analyze, at the time you accept a task, the costs and benefits of doing a less-than-perfect job. You must ask yourself some questions: How useful would a perfect job be here? How much more useful would it be than a merely adequate job? Or even a half-assed job? And you’ve got to ask yourself: What is the probability that I will really do anything like a remotely perfect job on this?

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement through small, implement­able steps. If you say you are adopting the Kaizen Way, rather than simply that you are trying to procrastinate less, you will sound like you have adopted a martial arts regimen. That’s kind of cool.

You wouldn’t make these choices in the morning. But you can make these choices for yourself the night before.

Feeling good now comes at a cost. I won’t feel more like doing it tomorrow. Just get started.