Relax! Procrastinating's Good For You.

I haven't been blogging much lately.

Usually, when I write online, there are several other things I probably should be doing instead!

Like now, for instance: I should be marking schoolwork. Then planning my maths lessons, deciding what to focus on for my recount writing later this term, organising reading materials for reading groups...

So if I haven't been blogging, you might think that's a good thing. I'm obviously focused, non-distracted, task oriented. In other words, getting stuff done.

Well, to a point, that's true.

I have been getting getting stuff done. But I have to face it, getting stuff done isn't that fun!

Going off on tangents is far more rewarding! And in support of this thesis, I find none other than the illustrious Leonardo da Vinci.

He reputedly spent his whole life pursuing tangents, rarely finishing anything. He's even been put forward as an archetypal procrastinator. The suggestion is that he could have done better, if only he had applied his talents in a more focused manner.

So, I was heartened to read this article, yesterday (when I should have been writing unit plans). The author, Bill Pannapacker, says da Vinci's so called procrastination is precisely what made him a genius. "Mediocrity gets perfectly mundane things done on time. But genius is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. You cannot produce a work of genius according to a schedule or an outline."

"Procrastination," he writes, "is a calling away from something that we do against our desires toward something that we do for pleasure."

Next time I'm wading through my big long list of things to do, feeling creatively stultified, I'll remind myself of Leonardo and go where my inspiration leads me, rather than do what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'll be better off for it, and my students might be, too.