Weekend Reads

Contrarian Ideas about Procrastination (Weekend Reads)

February 12, 2016 — by Matt

This weekend’s reads are all about procrastination. But rather than lambasting the favorite vice of so many of us, these articles take a different approach. I love challenging my own views on things and these articles were refreshing in how they presented procrastination.


This is an article Austin Kleon included in his most recent newsletter, and it’s an interesting take on procrastination. Author Adam Grant experimented with purposeful procrastination and found that it actually helped his creativity.

I can be a terrible procrastinator. And like most of us, I attribute such negative connotation to procrastination that whenever I do it, I chastise myself mercilessly. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing and the ever-present underlying guilt, maybe it’s my expectations for myself… whatever it is, I feel like shit while I’m procrastinating but I just keep doing it.

Practiced or purposeful procrastination is an interesting idea though. I actually think the value in Grant’s approach is in slow, steady work and not in the procrastination itself – doing nothing for a month and scrambling to finish your work the night before a deadline won’t do anything for creativity.It’s true that when you rush to finish something, you often take the most logical, conventional route. Working more slowly allows you to explore more creative, divergent, non-conventional ideas and approaches.


This article also deals with procrastination, but the contrarian idea found here isn’t necessarily about procrastinating. It comes at the end of the article, and it’s about positive thinking and identity. Here’s a passage from the article:

Chances are you’ve experienced this in some area of your life as well. The more you care about the outcome, the harder it feels to achieve. The less you care, the more naturally it comes to you.

It’s backwards in a way. The more I try to convince myself that I’m a brilliant writer and that I have something important to say, the more the simple act of writing an article threatens my identity, and the more I procrastinate writing it.

Whereas if I just believe that I’m just some random dude who puts words on paper, eventually the act of writing then threatens nothing and procrastination stops.

This is one (of many) ways that positive thinking can actually derail us.

What Mark Manson (who is becoming one of my favorite bloggers) touches on here is very interesting – the idea that building this idealized idea of our identity puts tons of pressure on ourselves, because failing to do what we tell ourselves is inherently in our nature threatens our identity.

I run into this all the time. I start an article or a song and I tell myself it’s going to be amazing – and as such, I won’t let myself just create because if it isn’t perfect, it’ll be a failure. Maybe this flies in the face of my identity-based personal pillars a little bit… or maybe not. I’m not sure yet.

I do know that when we were kids, we didn’t care about what legacy our actions would leave or if it threatened our identity or not because we didn’t really have a premeditated identity – we just did stuff. And I also know that injecting a little bit of that “just do stuff” mentality into our life and work could help a lot of us bust through our self-inflicted roadblocks. I mean, we are what we continually do, right?

Have a great weekend!

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