Structured Procrastinator


“. . . anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” — Robert Benchley, in Chips off the Old Benchley, 1949

OK, yesterday I spoke with Arthur regarding his “late” math homework assignments.  I demanded to know why he waits until the very last-minute to complete his math homework (this according to his math teacher Mr. W).  Waiting until lunch time, while sitting directly across from his math teacher is not a good idea.  It went like this, “Mr. W. sent an email…he was not very happy with you Arthur”.  Arthur calmly looks up and says, “Really?”…then he smiles briefly and said,  “Oh, he finally emailed you.  It takes him weeks to update our homework assignments.  I’m not surprised it took him almost three months to contact you. I think he’s too old to be teaching, he needs to retire. ”

So this kid knew he was literally insulting his math teacher by waltzing into his classroom during lunch to do math homework. Mind you, the syllabus lists all math assignments for the entire semester, which allows these kids ample time to complete them.  Such arrogance!

“You know you gotta pass math so you can graduate and start college next year.  What gives kid?”  He’s smirking now, “Mom, don’t worry about this, I got this.  Everything’s under control.”    What does this kid mean by “…everything’s under control”?  Evidently, nothing’s under control if your math teacher’s miffed.   “Arthur, stop waiting until your lunch crunch to do your darn homework!  I mean it”.

I will continue to stay in contact with Mr. W., so I can ensure this kid does his homework the night before.  What can I say, the kid’s arrogant like his father.  It’s in the genes.  But, I read an article recently about folks who are defined as “structured procrastinators”.

“All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it.” John Perry

I’m sure there have been times we’ve all put important stuff off, to do the not-so-important stuff.  But, who has the nerve to go to school, sit in front of his teacher and say, “Hey teach, guess what?  I’m just starting my homework.  Ha ha!”  Not good.  It means I really don’t care about you or your stupid math class.  Sends the wrong signal in my opinion.

“Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing.” more by John Perry

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  1. Kelly Hart says

    I am home today due to really blizzard conditions here in West Virginia. Took the day off, had a PTO and I deserve it. Really like your blog. I don’t have kids but have a nephew who sounds almost like your son when it comes to homework. Procrastinates.

  2. Wait, so… He’s doing his homework, and turning it in on time (since lunch is before class, and every class I’ve been to doesn’t require homework to be turned in before class, I’m assuming he has it done and ready to turn in by the time class starts), and that is not acceptable somehow? Yes, it’s not the most respectful way to do that, but I’d give your son kudos for planning on having a dedicated time and space to focus on his math.

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