Cover drive: Don’t regret missing the deadline!

Dr. Sudhirendar SharmaIf you are someone who struggles with deadlines, gets distracted from the task at hand and surfs the web instead of paying the bills, this book promises to help you ride over your guilt of ‘postponing’ provided you are not an arrogant procrastinator or a habitual offender.Derived from a Latin word meaning ‘to put off to tomorrow’, procrastination has been described as ‘one of the general weaknesses’ that prevail to some degree in every mind. Rather than lamenting, it is better to live with it because a structured procrastinator gets a lot done by not doing what s/he is supposed to do at a particular moment.
Socrates, like other Greek philosophers, was baffled with akrasia, the mystery of why people choose to do other than what they think is best for them to do? Not because we don’t know what is right, argues John Perry, but because a number of desires of various sorts are competing for control of our bodies and thought processes. Man might be a rational animal but when it comes to taking a call on multiple desires, one tends to take a ‘rationalizing position’.
A Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, John Perry celebrates the nearly universal character flaw by pointing out that procrastinators end up being doers at the end. For writing this small book of big essays, inspiration came from an eight decade old article by Robert Benchley in the Chicago Tribune titled ‘how to get things done’, in which it was stated that ‘anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work s/he is supposed to be doing at that moment’. With tongue-in-cheek wit, John Perry takes the argument further by advocating the acceptance of the obvious.
It is probably right that procrastination is a basic human impulse, but anxiety about it as a serious problem seems to have emerged in the early modern era. Several self-help books are on offer to help you stop procrastinating. John Perry has contrasting advice: ‘Pat yourself on the back for what you manage to do while enjoying the time others think you might have ‘wasted’. Taking a philosophical self-help call on akrasia, the author suggests that we realize the existence of structured procrastination to not only feel better about ourselves but to actually improve somewhat our ability to get things done.
Insightful and amusing, The Art of Procrastination has a positive view of what till recently has been considered a character flaw. No wonder, his first essay on ‘Structured Procrastination’ won the author 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature. And for writing this book, John Perry followed the principle of procrastination – he completed the book at the cost of grading papers and evaluating dissertation topics of his students. Without doubt, he has done a perfect job with the book. And one is sure that less interesting work of grading papers and evaluating dissertations was eventually done. After all, why do keep something for tomorrow when it could easily be done the day after tomorrow!…Link
The Art of Procrastination
by John Perry
Workman Publishing, New York
92 pages, $12.95

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