The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing, Or, Getting Things Done by Putting Them Off

By John Perry



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

Price: $12.95  $11.91
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Published Date: August 28, 2012
Pages: 92
Dimensions: 5.4 X 0.55 X 7.41 inches | 0.45 pounds
ISBN: 9780761171676

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"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 Idler's Glossary

"The Art of Procrastination rings startlingly true. Perry reconstructs the inner dialogue of the procrastinator with a droll, lighthearted style that has inspired me to try his strategies (alarm clocks, self-deceptions, and self-forgiveness).
--Patrick Byre, CEO,