What Mom taught me about procrastination

In continuing my tribute to the life lessons Mom has taught me, I thought I’d throw in a post that’s a little more lighthearted than what Mom taught me about transparency. So, procrastination. Give me a second.

[Three days later.] So, procrastination. About that. Mom always told me that a procrastinator is just someone who works best under pressure. A mounting deadline gives some of us the mental push we need to overcome all of the emotional barriers to doing work. And while the jury’s still out on the pros and cons of procrastinating, as Chris Baily notes at The Globe and Mail, procrastination is just our body’s natural response to tasks that are “boring, frustrating, difficult, unstructured, and lacking in intrinsic rewards.” And since Chris agrees with Mom, we’ll assume he’s right.

But Chris and I aren’t the only ones who agree with her. I recently read in the Observer about Adam Grant’s TED Talk lauding procrastinators [watch Adam Grant’s TED Talk here] and found I closely identified myself, Mom—and my whole family, really—with some of the traits Grant discusses.

One in particular, was consistent lateness. Or as Mom calls it: Zimmer Time. There are few Zimmer family gatherings that start or end on time. But even if the family reunion goes off the rails, we at least come away with a great story. So, to paraphrase Grant, “the greatest parties are the ones that fail the most, because they’re the ones that try the most.” Party on.

All that said, at work we [hopefully] manage our time well–while procrastination can yield creative results, constant lateness won’t bode well for you or your supervisor’s ulcer, so balance thoughtful delays with periods of purposeful productivity. Ultimately, though–as foreshadowed by this family reunion fail vid [note: not my family, but thanks to Tia Alberding for the video]–thoughtful dallying, courageous spontaneity and just a tiny bit of don’t-give-a-shit attitude can yield memorable results. Any public relations, online community or social media campaign would be well-served to embody some of the traits of the procrastinator and embrace distraction..

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