Procrastination can be good, Leonardo da Vinci or Margaret Atwood show it

There is no point in running, you have to leave on time: here is perhaps the most distressing proverb for the community of procrastinators. Procrastinawhat? Hard to pronounce, perhaps, but easy to understand: procrastination is constantly putting off a task that you are supposed to do, when it can have unpleasant consequences and you could accomplish it right away. following.

It is the duty begun the day before for the next day; the tax return still pending; this SMS that has been sadly waiting for days and to which, of course, we will respond, but not right away. In short, these daily activities in place of which we always find better things to do and which we will begin tomorrow, as Jean-Jacques Goldman said.

Precrastinators versus procrastinators

This behavior is so shared that in addition to an official name, it has a special day. It falls this Saturday, March 25 – unless we decide to push it back to Sunday, of course. And yet, procrastinating is rather frowned upon. By the “precrastinators”, first – those who always finish everything well in advance – but also by the people concerned, steeped in guilt. It is this feeling of guilt that prompted the journalist Fleur Daugey to devote a book to the phenomenon and its beneficial effects, Procrastinate to better create.

“The starting point is first of all my own example. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about my procrastination, ”explains the author, initially trained in psychology. Then one day, “probably while procrastinating”, she came across a video of a lecture by psychologist Adam Grant. The professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recounts how a student had retorted to him that it was by putting things off that he got his best ideas. The exchange will lead to research on the subject, and an observation: procrastinating minds tend to be more creative.

Not a time management problem

“For a long time, we associated procrastination with not knowing how to manage your time,” remarks Fleur Daugey. “Several studies show that it is not that at all, and rather a problem of managing emotions. In some cases, at least. Because of course, there is the procrastination of things for the simple reason that they bore us and are daunting, such as tax declarations. But we also reject activities that interest us: “When it comes to studying, changing jobs, going on that dream trip, there’s also the question of capacity: I’m not going never get there. »

When it comes to studying, changing jobs, going on that dream trip, there’s also the question of capacity: I’m never going to make it.

In a recent study, researchers from Inserm showed that procrastination also had to do with how effort and reward are perceived, and the time taken into account. People who procrastinate tend to immediately perceive the cost of effort more than the effect of rewards. “The further in the future an award is, the less attractive it will seem,” explained one of the authors in October.

Famous Procrastinations

Whatever the causes, Fleur Daugey’s book wishes to emphasize the sometimes welcome effects of postponing, with famous examples in support. “Often, procrastination makes things ripen without us realizing it. »

And to quote Darwin who, from 1838, wrote in one of his notebooks the basis of his theory of evolution, but did not publish his work until twenty years later, in 1859. A maturation, no doubt; but is it so different from procrastination?

Often, procrastination makes things ripen without us realizing it.

Think without thinking

closer to us, Margaret Atwood, to whom we owe La Servant écarlate, “procrastinated about three years before starting” his famous novel adapted in multiple forms. The author compares the phenomenon to hesitation before diving into a lake, for fear of getting cold: procrastinating allows you to decide if you really go there. “When we wait, there is a latency effect: the brain continues to work on the subject because we have it in mind, then we will suddenly be ready and produce”, summarizes Fleur Daugey.

In 1935, architect Frank Lloyd Wright completed the plan for this house in Pennsylvania in just a few hours after learning that the businessman who had entrusted him with the design was about to come to see the progress of his work. (US Library of Congress, Highsmith Archive/Carol M. Highsmith – Wikimedia Commons)

Another example of this phenomenon: the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose house on the waterfall, in Pennsylvania, is one of the historic architectural creations. The architect had postponed the start of his drawing for several months, while saying he had made progress, until the client announced that he was going to come and see the plans in a few hours. This is the time it took him to draw one of his most famous works.

“Last minute adrenaline”

This “last moment adrenaline” is a powerful fuel for bringing out the ideas that have germinated from the subjects encountered along the procrastinating route, believes Fleur Daugey. Her favorite example: Leonardo DeVinci. Often described as an inveterate procrastinator, sometimes with certain modern diagnoses of pathologies, the artist struggled to finish his paintings without pressure from patrons. “In parallel with The Mona Lisa, da Vinci studied optics, the way in which light touches a sphere”, underlines Fleur Daugey. Lighting and light, this is precisely one of the outstanding characteristics of the painting. “Everything he did in pushing the deadline is reflected in his art. »

So many reasons, therefore, to reconcile with the tendency to flutter. Without a miracle cure, however: “Of course, it is rather preferable not to wait until the last moment”, smiles Fleur Daugey, at the risk, otherwise, of losing quality. “Moderate” procrastination would therefore be a path of progression for those who cannot help but reach the last limit. To be tested tomorrow. Or the day after tomorrow.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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