Do your work or you automatically donate to George W. Bush

I love this hilarious technique from an article in the Chronicle for Higher Education on how academics avoid procrastination, using “stick” measures:

Ms. Brick gave the site her credit-card number and pledged to work at least 10 hours per week on her paper. When she fails to meet that weekly quota — as of mid-March, that had happened three times — the Web site sends 50 dollars from her account to the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

Da Vinci procrastinated, and it was no sin: For those that want to feel better about themselves

Says the Chronicle for Higher Education:

Leonardo rarely completed any of the great projects that he sketched in his notebooks. His groundbreaking research in human anatomy resulted in no publications — at least not in his lifetime. Not only did Leonardo fail to realize his potential as an engineer and a scientist, but he also spent his career hounded by creditors to whom he owed paintings and sculptures for which he had accepted payment but — for some reason — could not deliver, even when his deadline was extended by years.

[...] Leonardo was the kind of person we have come to call a “genius.” But he had trouble focusing for long periods on a single project. After he solved its conceptual problems, Leonardo lost interest until someone forced his hand. Even then, Leonardo often became a perfectionist about details that no one else could see, and the job just didn’t get done.

Plus, when Da Vinci was procrastinating, it was not associated with sin, as it is now, according to the writer, English professor, W.A. Pannapacker.

Leonardo is just one example of an individual whose meaning has been constructed, in part, to combat the vice of procrastination; namely, the natural desire to pursue what one finds most interesting and enjoyable rather than what one finds boring and repellent, simply because one’s life must be at the service of some compelling interest — some established institutional practice — that is never clearly explained, lest it be challenged and rejected.

My question is, isn’t “what one finds more interesting” always what one is not working on?  I think this is the tension experienced by those of us who try to do what we love or at least like a lot: accepting the drudgery that comes with any job, even a job that is associated with a passion.  For this reason, we should maintain our leisure time as well.  It is important–and a personal goal of mine–to have hobbies that are passions, without pressure to feel productive.  (I won’t wish for too much leisure time though, in this economy!)


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