John Perry's theory of structured procrastination can be summed up as follows:
- Some people are inherently predisposed to be procrastinators across a wide range of domains
- Such procrastinators are still capable of being productive
- They can achieve this because they work on less-important (but still important) tasks in order to avoid working on (procrastinate) on more-important (or seemingly more important) tasks.
- If you are a procrastinator and want to still get things done, expand your workload/to-do list.
The first point seems to be well supported since procrastination is regarded in the literature as a personality trait (Steel, 2007). The second point also seems reasonable, although I am not sure of empirical support for it (although I can think of plenty of anecdotal evidence). The real interest for me, is the mechanism proposed in the 3rd and 4th point. (Note that Perry is not the only one to propose such a theory, see for instance Aaron Swartz' HOWTO: Be more productive.)
Has it been observed that procrastinators who are successful achieve this success by expanding their workload and working on medium importance task at the cost of high importance tasks they want to procrastinate on?
Steel, P. (2007) "The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure." Psychological Bulletin 133(1): 65–94. [pdf]