Sometimes the list of things you need to remember seems never ending: birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, meetings. Keeping on top of life’s perpetual cycle of responsibilities can be a full-time job in itself, and the family calendar can quickly evolve into a mad hieroglyph of scribbled notes and cancelled appointments.
Of course, some people seem as though they were born organised. They not only remember birthdays, they always deliver the perfect personalised card or thoughtful gift. You’ll never catch them with an expired passport or the wrong bankcard in their purse. They make appointments, write lists and always seem cool, calm and collected.
Then there’s the rest of us, who have piles of ironing to do the size of a small horse and are constantly having to improvise quick-fix dinners when we realise we forgot to buy a key ingredient at the supermarket.
The problem is that organisation takes time. Planning a schedule, writing lists, keeping track: most of us would rather read a magazine or chat on the phone. Sound familiar? Then perhaps structured procrastination is for you.
It’s a system created by philosopher John Perry. We all mentally shuffle the tasks we need to complete into order of priority. Say your tasks include baking a birthday cake for the weekend, writing out 15 Christmas thank you cards by mid-January, painting the bathroom in the New Year and ironing the kids’ school uniforms for tomorrow morning.
The natural running order for those tasks should, of course, be as follows: ironing, birthday cake, thank you cards, bathroom. But what if ironing is your least favourite task, whereas you’re absolutely dying to crack on with the Christmas thank you cards because every year you leave it to the last minute?
John Perry explains, ‘Structured procrastination means shaping the structure of the tasks one has to do in a way that exploits this fact.’ In other words, the idea is to trick yourself into procrastinating by getting things done.
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