Procrastination. The definition is: putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.
Don’t knock procrastination. Although over time the act of procrastinating has gathered a bad reputation. We will take you back through history to show how this quality was celebrated and lauded throughout the ages. Please respect those competent in the ancient art of procrastination.
Humans put a great amount of stock in completing things. People who complete more than other people are rewarded, those who don’t are forced to do more productive things so that they can be rewarded more. During our early evolution this system made a whole lot more sense. Pretty much, you earned your own keep. If you didn’t work enough you didn’t deserve to stay with the group. You were then left on some desolate cliff to freeze or starve to death while the rest of the herd continues on their trek.
In modern day society there is much less need to stay with the group and most of our population seems more than willing to leave, however many members of the group in the dust in order to climb to the top. We move so fast we can’t pay attention to the rest of our human herd, a whole speeding mass of humanity.
From far away most of humanity must seem like a blur. We gather momentum as we speed past and pay less and less attention to those who stay behind. We pack into buses and cars and trains and move as fast as possible to the next location.
I want to talk about those who step off the train. Who take a step back and watch all of humanity zoom past in a single multicolor smudge. Who stop and watch the rest of our species rush past.
From those on the train the few who stay behind seem like a blur themselves. They don’t appear to be going as fast, not making as much, not working as hard. They are slackers by our standards, they put off their work until later but since there isn’t really as much reason to isolate them on some desolate freezing cliff we just pity them from afar. We can accuse them of being unproductive, deadbeats, loafers, or really just plain slow, but I can now assure you that they are the exact opposite.
Let’s go back to those cavemen. We love em, respect em and just generally are awfully thankful that they existed because without them our whole speeding world would be a whole lot slower, or maybe just quieter. We thank them for creating our race and for creating a whole lot of jobs surrounding the digging up of their bodies, their belongings and the looking-at of their artwork, so yes, thank you for existing. But despite our deep love for our supposedly crude anscestors we also have a deep love for moving very fast. And sure, these guys must have been moving pretty darn fast because they ended up pretty much everywhere on the planet. But what about the slower guys?
Those slightly below-average apes who just didn’t really get the whole “migration” idea probably were just left behind, setting the stage for an entire movement of procrastinators. They just put off migrating till a later time, maybe until they had invented something to make moving easier. Like the wheel, the bike or the car.
As so many of us know already, our predecessors made the first human art, all over the caves in which they lived. Humans generally like to think that this makes our species even more special because these ancestors invented not only interior decorating and art but also finger painting, possibly one of the best inventions we have mentioned so far. Obviously these things take time, you can’t just go out and choose what will permanently adorn your walls in an instant, so we can be quite certain that this early artwork was made by some of the best procrastinators in the business. When these early hunter-gatherers could have been searching for and/or killing their dinner, they stuck around long enough to create some pretty neat work.
Much later on one of the greatest artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci, was born. Although he is today recognized as a great inventor, artist and the creator of the Mona Lisa he was at the time, almost certainly, the world’s foremost expert in the craft of procrastination. The man excelled at it, he practically oozed the skill. Although he is lauded today for all of the reasons I mentioned, da Vinci created no more than 22 paintings during his entire lifetime, and spent copious amounts of time on everything he did, much to the annoyance of his employers. This great man received dozens of complaints from his sponsors, worked as slow as a snail and pretty much drove his employers to destraction every time he worked for them. And we still like him.
So the next time you see someone taking a lot of time on something, or someone who seems to be doing very little, consider the effort needed to appear as such. What a huge amount of training they must have put themselves through to achieve the overwhelming accomplishment of making themselves appear so unprodu-
Please excuse the writer of this article while she takes a small break before concluding the final sentence of this piece. She will continue writing as soon as she finishes the online course she is presently taking in the art of procrastination, published by Rosetta Stone. She also has yet to complete her campaign against discrimination against procrastinators, as well as the book she is currently writing on the subject, The Delicate Art of Fine and Effective Loafing, Dawdling and Other Such Pastimes.