Tom Hothem on Procrastination

Structured Procrastination

"I'm actually a fan of what I like to think of as "structured procrastination"—where one allows time for reflection and the fresh ideas that come of it. This approach is particularly useful with writing, as it's best to write a bit at a time and pace oneself toward the completion of an assignment. It's very hard to write an essay all in one sitting (as procrastinators often do) because it's too easy to lose the perspective one needs to analyze material and explain it clearly. It's easy to burn oneself out if s/he keeps pounding away at the keyboard without taking breaks for understanding what s/he is doing, and to allow new ideas about it to come along. This means leaving time for writing _and_ for reflection along the way.

[For what it's worth, one of my favorite collegiate regimens for structured procrastination was to develop an outline for an essay, then leave it for a day. For whatever reason shooting pool (playing billiards) always seems to boost my self-esteem, and I always wrote best when I felt confident. So before I'd sit down to write I'd spend an hour or two "procrastinating" in the pool hall. Then I'd go home to write for maybe three hours at a sitting. I'd repeat this regimen as necessary, building in time for revision and reflection throughout the course of a week.]

In a way, then, what I'm advocating for here is structure, leaving time for "structured procrastination" within it. Maybe this actually isn't procrastination at all. But if one paces oneself—as the Core 1 assignments are designed to do, insofar as one writes a bit each week for his/her reflection paper, and then develops that material into fuller essays for the course—s/he can find time for useful "structured procrastination" along the way, to maintain the best hold on perspective."

- Tom Hothem