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The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing
 
 

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing [Kindle Edition]

John Perry
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

A splendid way to avoid one s work. Ben Schott, author of "Schott s Original Miscellany" Do not put off reading this charming guide to more effective procrastination. Dr. Perry is the Fabius Cunctator in our war against the Hannibal of the undone. Be gone, elephants of nagging duty. P. J. O Rourke, author of "Holidays in Hell" Insightful, sensible, and amusing. Harry G. Frankfurt, author of "On Bullshit" John Perry is the wittiest philosopher since Marx (Groucho), and he brings to this book a delightful combination of wisdom and humor. Thomas Cathcart, coauthor of "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . ." "The Art of Procrastination" is a gem its practical wisdom as spot-on as its humor. Now that I ve devoured this hilarious and insightful tome, I not only know that I m a structured procrastinator, but I ve also picked up some invaluable tips on how to fool myself into being more productive, which to put to use someday. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of "36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction" What are you waiting for? Read this book! Patricia Marx, author of "Starting from Happy" John Perry s book is lively, funny, engaging and wise. And fortunately for procrastinators short. It s just the thing for a moment or two away from the task at hand! Timothy A. Pychyl, PhD, author of "The Procrastinator s Digest" I intend to write a rave about "The Art of Procrastination" just as soon as I ve cleared my desk this afternoon or at least by first thing tomorrow because reading this straight-talking, badly needed book has changed my life. Bruce McCall, writer and illustrator for "The New Yorker" There are lessons both deep and funny to be found in our capacity to put things off, and Perry is the ideal guide a writer of superlative wisdom and wit. Forget whatever you were supposed to do next, and read this book. Mark Kingwell, PhD, coauthor of The "I

Product Description

This is not a book for Bill Gates. Or Hillary Clinton, or Steven Spielberg. Clearly they have no trouble getting stuff done. For the great majority of us, though, what a comfort to discover that we’re not wastrels and slackers, but doers . . . in our own way. It may sound counterintuitive, but according to philosopher John Perry, you can accomplish a lot by putting things off. He calls it “structured procrastination”:

In 1995, while not working on some project I should have been working on, I began to feel rotten about myself. But then I noticed something. On the whole, I had a reputation as a person who got a lot done and made a reasonable contribution. . . . A paradox. Rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum. I realized that
I was what I call a structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things.


Celebrating a nearly universal character flaw, The Art of Procrastination is a wise, charming, compulsively readable book—really, a tongue-in-cheek argument of ideas. Perry offers ingenious strategies, like the defensive to-do list (“1. Learn Chinese . . .”) and task triage. He discusses the double-edged relationship between the computer and procrastination—on the one hand, it allows the procrastinator to fire off a letter or paper at the last possible minute; on the other, it’s a dangerous time suck (Perry counters this by never surfing until he’s already hungry for lunch). Or what may be procrastination’s greatest gift: the chance to accomplish surprising, wonderful things by not sticking to a rigid schedule. For example, Perry wrote this book by avoiding the work he was supposed to be doing—grading papers and evaluating dissertation ideas. How lucky for us.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (28 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091YL5KK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #207,972 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different viewpoint on procrastination 30 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those of us 'afflicted' with procrastination to a lesser or greater degree. This book gives guidance on how to turn procrastination into a strength rather than a weakness - I particularly liked the point that a known procrastinator should take on as many responsibilities as possible, as that makes it easier to become a productive procrastinator - I had always tried the opposite approach, and was constantly frustrated that I still didn't get what I wanted done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lucy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The most entertaining book I've read in a long time. And yes I'm currently procrastinating by writing this review. How constructive it is depends on the readers need!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of the Steven Wright observation that I selected for the title of this review. There are practical as well as philosophical advantages to avoiding hasty actions. That is one of several core principles of what John Perry characterizes as "structured procrastination," first in his essay that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education (February 1996), "How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done," and then in his recently published book, The Art of Procrastination (Workman 2012). As Perry explains,

"All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this negative trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastination does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things such as gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it...The procrastinator can be motivated to difficult, timely, and important tasks, however, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

"Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. In your mind, or perhaps written down somewhere, you have a list if things you want to accomplish, ordered by importance. You might even call this your priority list. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower on the list. Doing those tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure the procrastinator be comes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The art of procrastination 8 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think some of us tend to procrastinate more that others but it's a book that echoes a lot of truths for many. Very funny and to the point.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  66 reviews
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seize the day... tomorrow. 25 Aug 2012
By John Williamson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This reader must admit that the word "mañana," Spanish for "tomorrow," is a beautiful term. It even has a nice ring to it.

Yet I must agree with author John Perry. As he says in his book The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, there is a fine art to this. In fact, most good dawdlers at least aspire to be structured procrastinators, and Dr. Perry does a good job of explaining this in his book.

The title to this book may sound funny, and much of it is quite witty, but right in the introduction we learn of philosophical concept of "akrasia," which is the state of acting against one's better judgment. Why do people decide to do other than what they think is best for them to do? Both of the great ancient philosophers Plato and Aristotle pondered this, so it's nothing new.

Perry begins his first chapter with a discussion on "Structured Procrastination" and the logic behind the concept. We all do it; we put off doing things that we have to. We may fiddle on the computer, poke around on Facebook, or read Amazon reviews posted by others (like you're doing right now) instead of getting that expense report completed or washing the dishes. We have deadlines, and then find all sorts of diversions to push them back. In fact, my review here is a personal example of lollygagging, but more on that later.

Most of us feel at least somewhat bad about being dawdlers, and in many cases are aware that it can be annoying to others as well. But if you put in a small amount of effort, you can be a structured procrastinator, and once you start feeling awkward or guilty about it, you can actually get a lot done, as the author illustrates in this small but effective book.

"To-Do Lists" is the title of the third chapter, and it offers some interesting food for thought when one starts to look at prioritization and breaking things down to small increments. Dr. Perry shows us his personal list used for the following day before he goes to bed, and one cannot help but smile at it along with his following comments. The he goes on to show his expanded list, which will still make you smile, but it makes a lot of sense, especially in his somewhat comical numbered morning computer tasks.

The chapter entitled "The Computer and the Procrastinator" is one that will ring true with many, and for this reader the ideas presented here were worth the cost of admission. For the many of us who probably do spend an amazing amount of time on the 'Net, the author's points include some excellent ideas well worth considering. And where procrastinators can often be annoying to others, there are solutions for this.

This book is a fast read, yet for this reader it was one where I found more Post-It notes than I might have originally imagined before I started it. When I pulled the bookmarks to the witty passages, that still left about two-thirds of them, because there's some real meat here.

I must admit that my review here is an example of efficient dawdling: I received this book as an advance copy months ago as a result of an inquiry that I made at the Book Expo America Show in New York in June 2012. The publisher shipped the advance copy of this book quickly, yet my own procrastinating has resulted in my posting this review now.

This may seem confusing, as this review shows up here as an Amazon Verified Purchase.

That's because I have purchased another copy here for myself. I've pulled all of my personal bookmarks out of my original advance copy, and am going to make it a second-hand gift to a particular individual that can probably use the advice in the pages here. I would have gifted a new copy, but I'm still waiting for two previously loaned books and a small piece of camera gear to be returned. If that individual reads this and uses the book the way that I hope, then maybe this will be a mild prod, a gentle reminder to not lollygag about returning things. In any case, this one will be gifted to others as well, and not just because of the witty title.

Seize the day... tomorrow will be soon enough.

8/24/2012
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The early bird may get the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese." 4 Sep 2012
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of the Steven Wright observation that I selected for the title of this review. There are practical as well as philosophical advantages to avoiding hasty actions. That is one of several core principles of what John Perry characterizes as "structured procrastination," first in his essay that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education (February 1996), "How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done," and then in his recently published book, The Art of Procrastination (Workman 2012). As Perry explains,

"All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this negative trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastination does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things such as gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it...The procrastinator can be motivated to difficult, timely, and important tasks, however, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

"Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact. In your mind, or perhaps written down somewhere, you have a list if things you want to accomplish, ordered by importance. You might even call this your priority list. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower on the list. Doing those tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure the procrastinator be comes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done."

Throughout his thought-provoking as well as lively and entertaining narrative, Perry addresses subjects and issues such as these:

o The "paradox" of procrastination
o The relationship between procrastination and perfectionism
o To-do lists: Do's and Don'ts
o Computer use and procrastination
o The fringe benefits of procrastination (e.g. "the gift of guilt-free time")
o Why procrastinators need not be annoying

In his book's Appendix ("How to Kick the Habit - Read at Your own Risk"), Perry briefly discusses various sources that are available to those who cannot accept the responsibilities as well as the benefits of structured procrastination. He also includes words of caution: "You can waste a lot of time surfing from site, not doing any of the things you ought to be doing. You might want to try simply accepting yourself as a structured procrastinator for a while before plunging into a search for the perfect tool to help you drop the habit altogether."

For those who are impatient to escape the almost unlimited opportunities that structured procrastination offers, Mark Twain offers this advice: "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Procrastinating does not mean doing nothing, nor is it the worst flaw a person can have! 9 Sep 2012
By Didaskalex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
***** "Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions--which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we'll feel tomorrow, or the next day."--Psychology Today
*

Procrastination is the act of willfully delaying the doing of something that should be done, and in some people it is a habitual way of handling any task. As kids we were asked not to postpone until tomorrow what can be done today, inscribed on school homework books. The avoidance of doing a task which needs to be done, or procrastination not only affects a person's work, but may probably involves guilt feelings. Trying to disguise our avoidance by looking busy doing things that may be interesting, would not contribute towards the goal, rather than filing our tax return, for example, before the mid April deadline!

Searching Amazon.com for books on Procrastination, you may retrieve a thousand, but John Perry is the only author who calls it, an art. The versatile philosopher and creative thinker, who has earned the hearts as well as the minds of his readers and students, is the winner of Ig Nobel Prize in literature, described as, "first makes people laugh and then makes people think." And as a master procrastinator, since I was 7 years old, I was waiting for this book popularizing on his essay which earned him this American parody.

Celebrating a distinguishing feature of human character flaw, The Art of Procrastination is a charming, challenging, engaging book, slim but full with funny arguments and bright ideas. "Most procrastinators are nice folks who get a lot done, albeit by not doing other things they should be doing," Perry says. "You may be a procrastinator, but you aren't a serial killer or a child-molester or someone who steals food from hungry nuns." What is procrastination's greatest gift? It is the chance to accomplish surprising, wonderful things by not sticking to a rigid schedule.

Dr. Timothy Pychyl elaborates on what prof. Perry referred to, writing,"people diagnosed with ADHD are characterized as 'having difficulties completing tasks on time, organizing work,...'. Quite a few readers ... have discussed their own ADHD in relation to procrastination. ... What surprises them and me is how little formal research has been conducted exploring the relation of ADHD to procrastination."--Psychology Today. Indeed, the eminent scholar offers innovative strategies, effective tactics and funny advise to abate the consequences of dawdling, lollygagging and postponing syndromes!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Procrastinators, Unite! 3 Sep 2012
By JackBluegrass - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We procrastinators tend to be a gloomy lot. So, first read this book through, and you'll find it is very funny. There will be a lot of, "He's right!", as you read along.

Then go back and read again [it's a VERY short book] for some helpful advice from an author who totally understands what you're facing.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From easy reading to easy living 20 May 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The most motivating and optimistic guide I've ever read. It's not about changes you have to make to become descent at last, but it suggests the most productive way of looking at things for those who feel constantly depressed about any necessary organization. Just a few tips on how to trick yourself into doing stuff written in very attractive language.
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