A course in unapplied procrastinology

I intended to post this a few days ago, but . . . Well, you know . . .

A few days ago on Twitter I asked a friend how she was doing, and got the reply

I’m polishing my procrastination skills!

In case you don’t know, procrastination skills can in fact be polished to a very high level, as described in this Tove Jansson quote which I blogged about a while ago.

I found myself musing about how one acquires such a high level of skill in this area. What would a course in applied procrastinology look like? Would anyone every get round to registering? I suppose someone who was good at procrastinating wouldn’t, but then they wouldn’t need to do the course, would they?

Applied procrastinology sounds like hard work though, especially applied. Surely someone advanced in procrastinology wouldn’t apply themself to anything relevant to the task in hand. (See the Tove Jansson post.)

Well, I used to edit an actual course handbook for an actual degree course, so I know what course outlines look like. In fact, after a few weeks working almost exclusively on putting lots of different tutors’ course outlines into a standard format agreed with a university, everything starts to look like a potential course module.

What I came up with looked something like this.

Unapplied Procrastinology, Level 1

  • None
  • For successful completion of the course, students will not complete the course.
Educational methods
  • See next year’s edition of this outline.
Course content
  • Anything unrelated to the subject, at the student’s choice; at least 80 hours should be wasted.

Avoid writing 2,000 words each on any two of the following:

  • Procrastination and the concept of infinite future time.
  • “Put off childish things”—procrastination in the New Testament?
  • Global inactivity and the procrastinometrics of climate change.
  • Procrastination and its contribution to world peace.
  • Six months after their general election, political parties of the Netherlands have not got round to forming a government. The country seems to be doing quite well. How do the merits of procrastinocracy compare with those of other political systems?
Reading list

Any book which is either

  • more interesting than the course, or
  • at least 3 weeks overdue for return to the library.
 Non-reading list (July 2012)
  • Perry, J.,  Structured Procrastination (article)
  • Recent issues of the Closed Access Journal, unavailable via their  Twitter account. You should avoid reading at least six issues of the Journal.
  •  Five or more issues of the Journal of Universal Rejection; contents of back issues are listed on their website, where you can also avoid taking out a subscription.

Note that this is only a Level 1 course (appropriate to year 1 of a 3-year degree). At this level, merely failing to submit any work would be sufficient for a pass; for Level 2, students would have to submit actual evidence of having spent at least 80 hours putting off doing any work; and for Level 3, documentation would have to be supplied showing an ability to procrastinate over something genuinely important: a letter threatening legal action over an unpaid tax demand, say.

What’s worrying me now, though, is that some of those essay titles sound like quite bona fide subject areas. For example, procrastinometrics of climate change would focus on methodologies for assessing how likely governments are to take action, how far the inaction is likely to extend, how these conclusions can be expected to impact on climate models and predictions . . . Procrastination and the concept of infinite future time would focus on the psychology of procrastination, people’s attitude to their own mortality . . . Procrastination and its contribution to world peace would consider Let’s invade them tomorrow thinking, warlike legislation which ran out of time in parliament, and so on. It’s quite possible that procrastination has made a contribution to world peace.

Hmmm, maybe I’d better stop thinking about this before it gets any more out of hand . . .

6 responses to “A course in unapplied procrastinology

  1. You’re working far too hard on this. (as am I by even reading nearly all the way to the end.

  2. I think there may actually be a good reason to have a field of procrastinology. I think I would take to the subject like a fish to water, but never finish the dissertation, of course

  3. oh no – i don’t have a book right now that’s at least 3 weeks overdue! what happened to me? will you fail me? promise, it won’t happen again!

  4. Hilarious! I wish I’d had the opportunity to take this course. Or should I say, not taken this course? I’m not sure…

    • Well there’s definitely hope for you, because I wrote the post more than ten months ago and you’ve only just got round to commenting . . . That’s certainly worth a few credits, but I’ve not worked out how many yet. 😉

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