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Two insights into procrastination: prevention and philosophy

Posted by Christopher Shea  October 7, 2010 03:55 PM

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Two delicious soundbites from James Surowiecki's lovely piece in the New Yorker about procrastination. (It's framed as a review of this book, a book I wish I'd written about myself.) First, a practical tip, of sorts:

Victor Hugo would write naked and tell his valet to hide his clothes so that he’d be unable to go outside when he was supposed to be writing.

That's even better than buying Freedom, the piece of software that keeps you from going online for a set period of time! Better, too, than putting glue in the Ethernet port of your laptop, which the author of "Freedom" did to keep himself off the Web.

Second, a more existential take on procrastination, courtesy of the philosopher Mark Kingwell: "Procrastination," Kingwell writes,

most often arises from a sense that there is too much to do, and hence no single aspect of the to-do worth doing.... Underneath this rather antic form of action-as-inaction is the much more unsettling question whether anything is worth doing at all.

That one is somewhat more painful to contemplate.

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