Well that depends!
According to UCSD professor Frank Partnoy procrastination is split into two different levels, one being Active Procrastination and the other Passive Procrastination. Usually when we think of procrastination we think of a lazy dude chillin out on his sofa as he eats potato chips and watches Netflix all day. This stereotype is best characterized as passive procrastination where procrastination is just an excuse to be ultra lazy. This sort of procrastination is clearly a problem. We’ve all heard, taken part in, or bore witness to passive procrastination but what about active procrastination, what makes that different?
Professor Partnoy characterizes active procrastination as the idea that “active procrastination means you realize that you are unduly delaying mowing the lawn or cleaning your closet, but you are doing something that is more valuable instead.” For example, you have a homework assignment thats due in 40 minutes but you also remembered that today is trash day, its very clear that doing your homework is far more important than taking out the trash so you choose to ACTIVELY postpone taking out the trash in order to as Professor Partnoy puts it “[do] something that is more valuable instead”. Partnoy advocates that we should analyze how much time we have to make a decision or perform a task and then wait until the last possible moment to do it. Partnoy argues that procrastination is “a universal state of being for humans. We will always have more things to do than we can possibly do, so we will always be imposing some sort of unwarranted delay on some tasks”. Research into decision-making across multiple fields of work found that many professionals follow this exact same mindset. Partnoy delved deep into research in fields like sports, comedy, medicine, military strategy, and even dating to examine the decision-making process that each of these industries rely on and he was shocked to find that the overall trend in these industries is to procrastinate until the last possible moment before making any decisions.
For example Partnoy uses the idea of a professional tennis player saying “a professional tennis player has about 500 milliseconds to return a serve. A tennis court is 78 feet baseline-to-baseline, and professional tennis serves come in at well over 100 miles per hour. Most of us would say that a professional tennis player is better than an amateur because they are so fast. But, in fact, what I found and what the studies of superfast athletes show is that they are better because they are slow. They are able to perfect their stroke and response to free up as much time as possible between the actual service of the ball and the last possible millisecond when they have to return it”. This idea can best be explained by the fact that when we take the most available amount of time to make a decision we give ourselves the most available amount of information about that decision and we allow our minds to process the information and compare it against other decisions we may have made. Partnoy believes that “Innovation goes at a glacial pace and should go at a glacial pace” meaning that no one really thinks of a spectacular idea on the fly, great ideas and great decisions are based on carefully thought out plans and DELAY.
If this subject interests you check out these two books listed below:
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
- Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy
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