Can procrastination be rational?
This article by Isaac Sorkin & Henry Swift - An economic study of procrastination, The Swarthmore Phoenix, Nov 30, 2006 - suggests there can be at least 3 good reasons for procrastinating.
1). Fixed costs to starting work:
- Some people, before they can settle down to a task, need to go through various rituals - such as tidying their desk, answering emails, filling up the coffee.
- Putting off work for one heavy session means you don't have do these rituals over and over again.
- Many people find the 2nd or 3rd hour of work easier than the 1st hour - i.e. they "feel in the zone", things start making more sense and work becomes more efficient.
- It is sensible then to make your work sessions as long as possible in order to take advantage of these returns of scale.
- Meetings quite often work this way as everyone starts to understand the other participants side of the argument.
- The idea is that if everyone else is doing the same thing that you are, it gets easier and more enjoyable.
- Skipping these things to work smoothly over the day involves an opportunity cost of missing out on the fun.
- So it makes sense to clump work like the rest of the team.