Friday, September 25, 2009

Of Vices and Virtues: Procrastination

Talking to an artist friend the other day, we explored a concept familiar to the creative person: Procrastination. Self-help books and articles covering procrastination lean to attempts to aid one in 'overcoming' procrastination or 'eliminating' it from your life. Organization and time management are seen as the weapons against procrastination, as though it is an evil that needs management. And yet, as my son studies practical economics, he is finding that delivering too much too early are not good business models. In the arts, procrastination is a tool that allows maximum creative time and minimal production time. Doing the job too early often results in the desire to redo. Obviously, if one were to just ignore the creative project until the last possible moment, there could be problems, such as under-estimating the time needed for the project and failing to finish it. But in my experience, most creatives look at the problem early and then let it sit in the back of their minds where they think it through and muddle it over and try various options and possibilities while they work on other things. So at the 'last minute', quite a bit of mental work has already gone into it and a number of versions and alternatives have been explored. So for most creative people, procrastination is not a vice, but the virtue of optimization of time and effort and the realisation of the best quality work we are capable of. Is it time to move it from the list of vices to the list of virtues and explore and understand how useful procrastination really is?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a really good point. I see how this is a virtue for creative people. But for non-creative engineers like me it's a vice. Very interesting. You're brilliant.