The Art of Structured ProcrastinationA couple of days ago, I read this article on Structured Procrastination. It was an eyeopener. Finally someone seems to have explained a key pattern of my life.
As if I was a sole elephant in a zoo wondering why I had such a long nose while no one else around me did. And then stumbled upon other pachyderms. So there are other people who spend their lives in idle pastime while more important "tasks" loom large over your shoulder.
Though I must say the author, John Perry is a PhD, so he must definitely not be such a fine exponent of the art as I must be. He must have put in the hard hours and the deep thought to come up with a winning thesis however long he'd have stretched it out. Nothing to compare with me letting application deadlines loom closer & closer and then lapse out of some systemic tendencies to proc'nate (I'm too lazy to even say the word).
To think of it, I have read the most books, seen most films (and repeatedly) and watched most of the sporting action under the shadow of something much more daunting. Like exams. Even recently, I was struggling with Focault's Pendulum for over 3 weeks. Faced with something important, I actually finished the remainder of F's P in about 3 days flat. For those industrious among you, yes that's how it really works for me on most occasions.
I know a few people who like to feign laziness and like to give out the impression that their many achievements were merely accidents or that they didn't have to do much about it. Somehow we always want to be David Gower rather than Geoff Boycott. I have a few chaps asking me how I get so much reading done (and fellow quizzers would have had the experience, that recalling abstruse & useless trivia seems to enthrall certain people, never of the feminine kind though) and how I have the time to remember (to paraphrase Elaine Benes) "the excruciating minutiae" of so many things. It was easier to pretend that such things came naturally to one, but there is an important factor - while you were out there slogging away in pursuit of your academic or career goals and following your dreams, I was postponing things and wallowing in the dream of "there is time left" and doing all of these cool but not always life-saving ones. Suffice to say, if we were back in old hunter-gatherer times, I'd have been extinct pretty soon. It's this current corrupt hedonistic & entertainment-oriented way of living that tolerates us.
I don't know if it also explains my relative lack of ambition in what I'm doing these days and the surprise/shock that accompanies appraisal meetings where supervisors don't always understand why I'm mostly unconcerned about my "ratings". I don't know if this mode of operation is a good thing, for instance, I'm blogging stuff like this when I ought to be improving my "domain knowledge" or something. But then I think of all the stuff I got done and I marvel at how I get better each day at getting things not done and still surviving. Atleast as long as it lasts.