Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023
    Using Structured Procrastination to Tackle Daunting Tasks

    Structured procrastination is a technique that allows individuals to make their tendency to procrastinate work in their favor. Coined by John Perry, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Stanford University, structured procrastination involves organizing tasks in a way that takes advantage of our avoidance of certain responsibilities.

    When faced with an important task that we are tempted to put off, structured procrastination offers three options. The first option is to engage in activities that we enjoy but do not contribute to our to-do list, such as scrolling through social media or watching TV. The second option is to complete a less important task that we still need to do, such as organizing our closet. Lastly, the third option is to choose another task from the to-do list that we are dreading less than our primary assignment. This allows us to make progress on other tasks while still avoiding our most challenging task.

    According to Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, if we find ourselves struggling to start a task, we can make a deal with ourselves to work on it for at least five minutes. Systrom suggests that once we start, we are likely to continue and complete the entire task. However, if we still struggle to get past the five-minute mark, structured procrastination becomes a valuable technique. Instead of dwelling on our lack of progress, we can shift our attention to another task that needs to be done. By accomplishing smaller tasks, we can maintain a sense of productivity and forward momentum.

    While structured procrastination may not result in the completion of our most significant task, it allows us to make progress on other tasks and avoid feeling stagnant. By taking advantage of our natural inclination to procrastinate, we can use structured procrastination as a tool to overcome daunting tasks and increase our overall productivity.

    – John Perry, Ph.D., professor emeritus of philosophy at Stanford University
    – Instagram founder Kevin Systrom
    – Inc. Contributing Editor Jeff Haden