If you’re one of our philosophically-minded readers, you’re perhaps already familiar with Stanford professor John Perry. He’s one of the two hosts of the Philosophy Talk radio show that airs on dozens of public radio stations across the US. (Listen to a recent show here.) Perry has the rare ability to bring philosophy down to earth. He also, it turns out, can help you work through some worldly problems, like managing your tendency to procrastinate. In a short essay called “Structured Procrastination” — which Marc Andreessen (founder of Netscape, Opsware, Ning, and Andreessen Horowitz) read and called “one of the single most profound moments of my entire life” — Perry gives some tips for motivating procrastinators to take care of difficult, timely and important tasks. Perry’s approach is unorthodox. It involves creating a to-do list with theoretically important tasks at the top, and less important tasks at the bottom. The trick is to procrastinate by avoiding the theoretically important tasks (that’s what procrastinators do) but at least knock off many secondary and tertiary tasks in the process. The approach involves “constantly perpetrating a pyramid scheme on oneself” and essentially “using one character flaw to offset the bad effects of another.” It’s unconventional, to be sure. But Andreesen seems to think it’s a great way to get things done. You can read “Structured Procrastination” here.
Have your procrastination tips? Add them to the comments section below. Would love to get your insights.