Friday, February 16, 2007

In Defense of Procrastination

When it comes to work, I’m just as likely to be reading as I am to be typing away at a brochure. I have a whole slew of procrastination techniques that begin with my obsessive following of the NFL and proceed through blogging, reading blogs, on-line word games and even taking long walks. Before the Internet, I was a compulsive computer solitaire player—so my habits are not Internet born, merely Internet enhanced.

However, when I do work, I’m a machine. I often have good ideas fast and can execute large projects in surprisingly little time. This may be just the way my brain works but I actually attribute it to my work habits.

Here’s my theory: we are the sum of our experiences. If all you ever do during the workday is focus on work, you’re going to be a drone trapped in the machinations of your job. But if you focus some attention elsewhere during the day, you’re letting the outside world into the work world. To sound all motivational-speaker-like: procrastination keeps the door of ideas open.

Good ideas don’t come from the inside, they come from finding something new on the outside, bringing it in and adapting it to a new purpose. For most companies working in the information economy, the bottom line is not measured in hours the employees are diligently working. It’s measured in the value of their ideas and services.

In a factory-economy, success is very much tied to the speed of production. But information-economy success is as much dependent on human ingenuity as it is on raw productivity. Companies understand this dynamic but I question how many know how to create environments of creativity. From my experiences and observations, too many modern businesses still rely on the “everyone working all the time” approach.

As our economy becomes more and more information based and our workforce becomes less manual and more intellectual, we’ll have to find ways to keep our businesses ahead of global competition. Could a tolerance of procrastination be a helpful step? That would be a development I could heartily endorse.

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Blogger AubreyJ said...

I’ll have to think... about getting around to thinking about that one.
Great read today, Alan...

1:07 PM  

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