“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today,” says Wayne Dyer. For anyone who looks around, the subject of procrastination is fodder for humor, preaching and philosophizing galore. Perhaps this is because almost everyone is a victim of it along the way – and “victim” is in the eye of the beholder. But one school of thought says that procrastination is that inner voice asking you to wait before acting. “Procrastination is your body telling you you need to back off a bit and think more about what you are doing. When you procrastinate as an entrepreneur it could mean that you need a bit more time to think about what you are pitching a client,” says James Altucher, an entrepreneur, author and overall dabbler in search of the next thing. As he sees it, procrastination can happen when you sense that the pitch, the concept, the product or service isn’t quite ready for prime time. Or you’re just a perfectionist who can’t complete things.
Frank Partnoy, author of the book, “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay,” makes the case that instead stressing over our delay tactics, we should in fact learn to manage it and we’ll all be happier. Partnoy insists that the ancient Greeks and Romans “regarded procrastination very highly.” Remember, those wise leaders would sit around and think for extended periods of time, to the extent that Rodin made a sculpture of them – perhaps after centuries of delay. Partnoy notes that the leaders of Lehman Brothers embraced snap decision making as opposed to procrastination, and we all know how that turned out. Famous procrastinators include Sir Isaac Newton, of apple falling on the head fame, Thomas Edison of light bulb fame and Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web – and no we won’t tell Al Gore Internet jokes now – we’ll wait and get to them later. Meanwhile, procrastination can be passive or active – which begs the question, can active and procrastination go together?