Late Binding

Procrastination is often seen as a negative trait. Reframe it, however, and you can reap its many benefits by unlocking the time you should be working on the task at hand to explore other, equally important, avenues that have potential.

I’m a terrible procrastiworker. Given the choice between working on the task at hand or moonlighting on something ‘a little more interesting’, I’ll opt for the latter every time.

Don’t get me wrong, I rarely miss a deadline, I’m just ‘late binding’.

Late binding is a technical term drawn from the field of computer science, which essentially means delaying decisions until as late as possible. As our computer scientist friends would put it, delaying decisions until runtime.

As Don Norman puts it, in Why Procrastination Is Good, late binding (delay, or procrastination) offers many benefits:

Delaying decisions until the time for action is beneficial for lots of reason. First, it provides the maximum amount of time to think, plan, and determine alternatives. Second, it enhances flexibility, allowing the actual action to take full advantage of the unique circumstances at the time it is required. And third, because the requirements are continually shifting and changing, delaying decisions allows the most current issues and situations to be accommodated.

All are compelling arguments for late binding, however, it is a passage towards the end of Norman’s piece that caught my eye:

Note too that deadlines are equally valuable. Without the rapidly approaching deadline when I have to stand up after dinner and deliver this after-dinner talk, I would still be procrastinating. A lack of time pressure allows the mind to be creative, to explore possibilities. A bit of stress focuses the mind, allowing the final compilation of all the earlier random, creative thoughts. Late binding is beneficial.

By late binding and availing of a lack of time pressure you allow the mind to wander, often uncovering elements that are important to the problem you’re working on, allowing you to reach more creative solutions to your current task. In short, procrastination offers a number of benefits.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but late binding might be a strategy worth exploring. It certainly works for me, allowing me the latitude to explore, en route, to the task at hand.


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You might also like to explore Tiny Books, where I’m sharing other notes and observations about the design of business and the business of design. I’ve just finished editing my latest book, Start! Stop Procrastinating and Pursue Your Passion, which will be available in May, 2016. Follow me on Twitter to be notified the moment it’s finished. Thanks for your support!