Getting ahead through procrastination

If Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan can teach us anything, it’s that excellence can come from waiting until the last minute.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

If there’s a more poetic ode to procrastination and the exhilaration that comes from just absolutely nailing a project completed in the 11th hour than Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I have yet to see it.

Bill & Ted is one of the seminal movies of my adolescence and, yes, adulthood. I’d probably be going just a bit too far to say that I fully fit the “slacker with a heart of gold” mold, but I’m a procrastinator through and through.

There’s a special kind of brilliance that comes from working on deadline. Procrastinators often conjure our best ideas when facing the stomach-churning pressure of starting a project days or weeks after we should have but still hours before it’s due.

There have been countless articles written about why you shouldn’t procrastinate and they’re not all necessarily wrong. However, there are also a few bits of wisdom that can be gleaned from procrastinators and applied the next time you’re assigned a project and actually aren’t straining the boundaries of your deadline.

Perfection is the enemy of good. You’ve heard this one before, but it’s so, so true. On a small project it’s relatively easy to nitpick every little detail to make sure it’s just right. The larger a project gets, the more difficult that task. You can get so lost in the details of a large project while trying to make it perfect that you lose sight of your overall goal — and nothing is ever perfect. Procrastinators know that full well and we’re satisfied with producing good — okay, very good — work instead and not quibbling over unnecessary details like whether or not to still capitalize internet or finding a word that means the same thing as “smart” but sounds … smarter.

Few things are as make or break as we lead ourselves to believe. If Bill and Ted failed their final history oral report they risked Ted’s father shipping him off to an Alaskan military academy, which would have destroyed their fledgling — and ultimately society-shaping — band, the “Wyld Stallyns.” That’s bogus, but most of us don’t face those dire consequences of our actions. How many of us have known (or been) someone who absolutely killed him or herself with long hours to bring a project to completion only to be met with a bland, “Nice job,” in return, whereas someone else throws together something in a few hurried hours and receives all the accolades in the world? Procrastinators know that results get rewarded, not how much effort you put into a project. Just do your best job and don’t stress out if everyone around you seems to be working harder.

Expertise is only a click away. You know how you’re shocked when you Google something and don’t get any good results? We’ve come to expect the internet to have everything, so we’re surprised when it doesn’t. CliffsNotes probably didn’t get you through all of high school or college, but it very likely helped with one class or one assignment. It should go without saying that the internet is just CliffsNotes for life, but people often seem to forget it.

How often has a colleague or professional peer asked you a question and is amazed when you can provide the correct answer? “You’re so smart, I can’t believe you knew that!” Thanks, I am. But so is Google, which is how I got you that answer quicker than it took you to originally ask the question.

The lesson: You can devote hours to figuring out the intricacies of something so you can look like an expert when delivering a presentation, or you can watch one YouTube tutorial. Save yourself the headache and watch the tutorial. You’ll have time enough left over for some cat videos and to check your email, two centerpieces of the Procrastinators’ Mt. Rushmore.

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