Last minute

Good news, if you're prone to waiting. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

Do you tend to put things off until the last minute? Don't answer yet. (Ha ha ha.)   

Kidding aside, there's good news for procrastinators. Ongoing research suggests people might actually do more creative work if they wait until the last minute, rather than planning ahead and managing their time well. 

This all goes back to something Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at Wharton, once wrote the New York Times.

Grant explained that he's not a natural procrastinator. In fact, he calls himself a "pre-crastinator," which I guess is supposed to mean the opposite. But one of his former students, Jihae Shin, who is now a professor herself at the University of Wisconsin, challenged him on his "pre-crastination" tendencies.

The results of her research are quite interesting, now that I’ve gotten around to reading it all. As a first step, Shin "surveyed people on how often they procrastinated" at several companies, and "asked their supervisors to rate their creativity," Grant wrote. 

Good news: "Procrastinators earned significantly higher creativity scores than pre-crastinators."

So, they dug deeper, and did a study in which they asked participants to come up with new business ideas, and cut the group into sections.

  • Some were told to start writing their business ideas right away.

  • "Others were given five minutes to first play Minesweeper or Solitaire," Grant writes, before they wrote their plans.

Then, independent judges weighed how creative the business ideas were. Results? The people who were told to put off working until they'd played old video games for a while came up with ideas that were 28 percent more creative.

(By the way, I reached out to Shin and asked what was up with the Minesweeper and Solitaire—how early 1990s! She explained that the computers they had for the study had an outdated Windows operating system.)

Grant opines that one explanation for this procrastinators-are-more-creative theory is that initial ideas are usually the most conventional. He also pointed out a few “big thinkers” who were known as chronic procrastinators, like Steve Jobs, Frank Lloyd Wright and Aaron Sorkin.

All of which suggests that a sort of controlled procrastination might work best. Grant's overall advice:

  • Imagine when you start what it would be like if you failed spectacularly. Your fear might "jump-start your engine."

  • Break projects into small steps, and define progress as you go along.

  • Accomplish work in small periods of time.

  • Make a commitment to achieve ahead of time, and stick to it. 

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment—you know, if you get around to it.

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7 other things worth your time

  • Here’s what the “vaccine passports” will likely look and work like. (Short version: like an electronic boarding pass.) (WSJ, $)

  • If you’ve ever spent time watching Law & Order SVU, here’s a story about the real-life team solving those kinds of heinous crimes in the Washington, DC detective bureau. (WashPost)

  • Several police departments say there’s been a spike in the number of very expensive cars being stolen—like $150,000 Mercedes and $700,000 Ferraris—made easier because the owners have a habit of leaving the key fobs in their vehicles. Separately, reports of thefts of catalytic converters from cars (which contain valuable platinum, palladium and rhodium), have exploded over the past year. (Sun-Sentinel, MPR News)

  • City officials in Miami Beach, Florida “voted to extend a highly unusual 8 p.m. curfew for another week along famed South Beach, with the possibility of extending it well into April if needed.” Officials say it’s due to an “unruly spring break crowd gathering by the thousands, fighting in the streets, destroying restaurant property and refusing to wear masks has become a serious threat to public safety.” (AP)

  • “The Biden administration is scrambling to control the biggest [immigration] surge in 20 years, with the nation on pace for as many as 2 million migrants at the southern border this year,” and more than 5,000 unaccompanied children are being held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. “The growing number of unaccompanied children at the border is adding greater stress to the system and has overwhelmed resources, which had already been strained as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” (WashPost, CNN)

  • Nearly 20 years after 9/11, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief, and told troops the Biden administration wants “a responsible end” to America’s longest war. (AP)

  • A GoFundMe page in memory of Hyun Jung Grant, one of eight people killed in the Georgia spa shooting last week, raised more than $2.7 million for her two sons. "I don't know how any word I write here will ever convey how grateful and blessed I am to receive this much support," one of the sons wrote. (USA Today)

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