03 May, 2008

In which I delineate the merits of "time-wasting" in the furthering of knowledge and creativity

Procrastination is the key to creativity, or at least a key to creativity. This is a statement that I believe wholeheartedly. I have a couple of reasons for believing in the power of procrastination.

1) It has never failed me in my educational and personal pursuits. Maybe this is because I am the owner of an inherent aversion to deadlines and requirements. I've rarely come across a list of requirements that I found completely "pointed" (to use a word coined by my amazing ex-teacher of biology. When I went to speak to him about my issues with the school system - mainly my frustration with the piles of homework and schoolwork that taught me very little about the various subjects - he said: "You're right, a lot of this work is completely pointless. But most people need to begin with a broad foundation of material, and then work through their lives, making their education more pointed. Maybe you've already done this." Tangential, but important nonetheless.) Lists creep me out, and time is a construct that I wish I could do without. Procrastination then, becomes the keystone of my plan for dealing with life's requirements. I'll read and write entire volumes of my own choosing, before I waste a minute on something required by someone else; and yet, it only seems to add to my ability and eventual creativity when I do get around to that paper, and this stockpile of imagination makes my mind prime for an hour or two of dry textbook reading. It's all about balance, and quality of life.

2) My theory is that when you allow part of your mind to relax, while concentrating on the basics of something else, you open yourself up to great ideas. For example, when do you have some of your best ideas (especially when you're stressed out)? For me, it's the shower. It's a place that requires some of my attention - at the very least physical, so that I don't scald myself or put conditioner in my eyes - but it also relaxes my body to the point where I can really think and digest material. Often, listening to music will achieve the same ends. I can put on John Mayer or the Grateful Dead and smash out a paper. At the same time, there are some types of music that are not conducive to work completion. Classical music in particular, will often consume my entire mind to the point where I cannot concentrate on anything else. It's a holistic cerebral experience, and the layers of sound keep me from thinking about anything else.

Still unconvinced? Well, I wasn't expecting to convert everyone. However, the people who are already procrastinators may take some comfort in my theory.

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