By Trevor Hedberg
Structured procrastination hasn’t gotten much discussion on this blog. In fact, Mark Alfano is the only one to mention it: he alluded to it briefly in a comment on this post from 2012. Given that I’ve found structured procrastination to be an indispensable skill in maintaining productivity over long periods of time and that I’ve encountered plenty of folks unfamiliar with the concept, it’s worth unpacking the idea and critically examining it.
Procrastination generally carries a pretty negative connotation. By definition, procrastinating means delaying what you are supposed to be doing. When you go out with friends to avoid working on a term paper, you’re procrastinating. When you go to the gym instead of tackling that stack of exams, you’re procrastinating. But here’s the twist, when you grade those exams to avoid working on that term paper, you’re structurally procrastinating. In a nutshell, structured procrastination is the art of delaying or postponing your work by completing other work.