Waiting until the last minute for anything is a way of life, one that is instilled in each of us through our many years of education -- elementary through university. Sure, it would be smarter to do things ahead of time, plan things out ... but when it comes to school work, and eventually, "real" work - most people only deal with the urgent. It's a theme in several of the essays from Seth Godin's new collaborative book; The Big Moo, where readers are reminded to "panic early" to deal with the fire drills of everyday work life. Another essay in the book points to the acts of returning calls, answering urgent requests, and putting out fires as what most people refer to as "work." But in the book's stated quest to be remarkable and help us improve ourselves and the way we work, I wonder if there may still be a place for procrastination after all.
As anyone who has worked in producing websites or web-based content knows, one of the greatest benefits of the Internet can also be its greatest foil ... the ease with which content can be changed. Web content never really "goes to the printers" and can always be changed, and often it needs to be. But there is a window of change that occurs in every web effort. A time when there is a flurry of "urgent" changes from multiple teams and departments, sometimes with conflicting priorities. It is the noise before a single reasoned choice (hopefully) emerges as victorious. The problem with the "panic early" approach is that it puts you right in the midst of this noise, making fruitless changes upon changes. Anticipating it, however, and procrastinating just long enough for the correct course to emerge is the best course.
Procrastination inherently involves waiting until the last possible moment to do something. While there may be many ways to prevent the time wasting activity described above, once it has occurred then time is the only factor that remains constant ... and with procrastination - time can be on your side. Time offers pressure and pressure offers leverage. And leverage is often the force that gets things done.