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Wait: The useful art of procrastination Paperback – 28 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (28 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184668594X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846685941
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Frank Partnoy turns conventional wisdom on its head with this counterintuitive approach to decision-making. Rather than telling us how to make decisions faster and faster, he mines and refines a rich lode of information from experts in a surprising variety of fields to demonstrate the power of delay, whether measured in milliseconds, days, or decades. Wait is a great read, chock full of fascinating insights. (Daniel H. Pink, author of 'Drive' and 'A Whole New Mind')

Having mined the best of American research in fields as wide-ranging as finance, behavioral economics and law, Partnoy has written a beguilingly readable treatise that boils down to a single, easily digestible conclusion: in our busy modern lives, most of us react too quickly. I whole-heartedly recommend this book. (Roger Lowenstein, author of 'The End of Wall Street' and 'When Genius Failed')

A seductive case for measured action (Time Out)

The perfect read for any self-proclaimed procrastinators (Irish Tatler)

Fascinating (FT)

Book Description

Don't blink, it's better to delay. Take your time, perhaps even procrastinate. In short, wait.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martin Turner HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wait is a book about the times when delay is good. It looks at super-fast sports, super-fast trades, and other situations where speed would seem to be essential, and uncovers the way in which fractional delay enables better decision making. It also looks at much slower activities, such as long term investing, and demonstrates that our tendency to act too quickly, too often is counter-productive.

This is all fascinating, and builds on Daniel Kahneman's work in Thinking, Fast and Slow, which is now being referenced by so many of these kind of books that anyone considering this should read that first.

The problem is that while Frank Partnoy is very good in demonstrating _that_ waiting can be beneficial, he doesn't make a compelling general case for _why_ it is beneficial, which means that we don't get a general insight into _when_ it is beneficial. To clarify: it is obvious that in super-fast sports there is a momentary pause before you react to something. Partnoy hails fencing as the fastest of all sports, which pleases me, as a fencer. I can confirm that he is right -- reacting too early is always a mistake. You have to watch the blade onto the blade, just as in cricket (which he also explores) you have to hit the ball when it's under your nose.

Likewise, in super-fast trades, which is something which he's written on earlier with great success, it turns out that leaving a pause in the algorithm gives a better result, though it's not entirely clear why.

What is missing is a logical analysis or definition which shows how to optimise that pause.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
In this thought-provoking study of decision making, professor Frank Partnoy argues that people make the best personal and professional choices when they take their time. Too often, human beings act quickly when it isn't necessary. Partnoy helps you understand the mechanics of your thinking so that you can arrive at informed, unhurried decisions. For those who would relish a more leisurely pace, getAbstract recommends this cogent argument that time is on your side.
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Format: Paperback
Nobody likes to wait, but……
This book will prove to you that waiting to act in most cases leads to more successful decisions and actions. The author presents a large number of occasions we all face, where he explains the physical processes in the mind and how we can influence them with waiting. He presents not only theories also interviews with decision makers on how they have benefitted from waiting, in some cases milliseconds, in tennis, to many months even years in innovation.
Procrastination is a problem most people face from time to time. All people have a problem of postponing decisions and actions they dislike. The mind signals conflict as they push in opposite directions of getting things done as quickly as possible and on the of other hand push for delay. The author describes how you should be aware of these two opposing forces and make a conscious choice. He also describes the merit of working with a mix of taking small actions and big actions. That is much more effective than concentrating a whole day only on one big action, or only on small actions.
Many subjects are covered with fascinating insights such as the interaction between heart and mind, tennis, baseball, football, high frequency trading, surgery, avoiding panic, fighter pilots, first dates, when and how to apologize, accountants, interviewing the President of the USA, getting out of the trap of thinking time is money, innovation, and opening up a closed mind
A book with an amazing richness of new knowledge, scientific as well as applications
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By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
Frank Partnoy helps us feel better about taking longer to do things. He offers a counterpoint to those time management books about how to do things faster. His book explores the advantages of delay for decision making and performance. We should slow down and listen.

The book examines professional athletes in "superfast" sports like tennis. A common misconception is that they simply move faster than we do. Their real secret is more flexible time management. "[W]hat distinguishes top tennis returners and baseball batters is not their ability to react quickly to visual stimulus, but rather their ability to create extra time, and then get the most out of it, before they have to react."

"The superfast athlete's approach of first observing, second processing, and third acting--at the last possible moment--also works well for our personal and business decisions. The best time managers are comfortable pausing for as long as necessary before they act, even in the face of the most pressing decisions." Partnoy describes the role that strategic delay plays in several professions. Chess masters, comedians, venture capitalists, and military strategists also use strategic pauses. Delay plays an important role in everyday actions as well. Apology and creativity also benefit from smart timing.

Research addresses the role of delay in our thinking. "Psychologists have suggested we have two systems of thinking, one intuitive and one analytical, both of which can lead us to make serious cognitive mistakes." The intuitive system is wired to act immediately, but may not move us in the right direction. Delay can save us from this type of error.
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