Slate's special issue on procrastination.

A brief history of wasting time.
May 16 2008 4:46 PM

Just Don't Do It

A special issue on procrastination.

Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer. Click image to expand.

Maybe you didn't care for our package on weddings last summer. Perhaps you weren't interested in the fall book blitz. You might even have skipped over our blowout neuroscience spectacular. Hey man, that's cool. Different strokes for different folks, am I right?

Not anymore. For the next three days, Slate will put aside the special interests and present, for the first time, a package of stories that will appeal to every single person reading the magazine. It's time for us to speak out on something that matters to all of you, regardless of class or creed; it's time to unite behind a common problem and a common dream.

Welcome, my friends, to Slate's special issue on "procrastination."

Emily Yoffe kicks things off with a moving memoir of her procrastination addiction and her journey through rehab. Seth Stevenson gives his own survivor's perspective, in the form of a letter to a young procrastinator.  Daniel Gross points out that it might be wise to invest in the procrastination economy—coffee, cigarettes, YouTube, etc. And Jessica Winter explores the rich literature of wasted time and the psychology of writers who put off their work for years and years.

Elsewhere in the issue, Josh Levin presents his grand unified theory of computer solitaire. Heather Smith reviews the literature on cross-cultural procrastination and reveals why the Japanese waste more time than we do. Ben Zimmer goes over the long and strange history of the word procrastination, and Ray Fisman provides an economist's perspective on putting things off. Finally, we'll present "ProcrastiNation"—a roundup of the time-wasting rituals of everyone from cattle ranchers to CIA agents.

Now stop slacking off and start reading!

Tuesday

"Lollygagging Through Life: I'm joining Procrastinators Anonymous—can I get past step one?" by Emily Yoffe. Posted May 13, 2008.

"Procrastination Lit: Great novels about wasting time," by Jessica Winter. Posted May 13, 2008.

"Lazy Money: The procrastinator's portfolio: An investment guide," by Daniel Gross. Posted May 13, 2008.

"Letter to a Young Procrastinator: Some last-minute advice from a veteran slacker," by Seth Stevenson. Posted May 13, 2008.

"Procrastinators Without Borders: Do the Japanese waste more time than we do?" by Heather Smith. Posted May 13, 2008.

Wednesday

"Solitaire-y Confinement: Why we can't stop playing a computerized card game," by Josh Levin. Posted May 14, 2008.

"Pro·cras·ti·na·tion: How we got a word for "putting things off," by Ben Zimmer. Posted May 14, 2008.

" 'It's All in My Head': Did Truman Capote and Ralph Ellison have writer's block—or were they just chronic procrastinators?" by Jessica Winter. Posted May 14, 2008.

Thursday

"The Unfinished Stories: All the stuff we never got around to including in the special issue," by Daniel Engber. Posted May 15, 1008.

"Like There's No Tomorrow: How economists think about procrastination," by Ray Fisman. Posted May 15, 2008.

"Procrasti-Nation: Workers of the world, slack off!" Posted May 15, 2008.

Friday

"Taking Your Time: Josh Levin and Seth Stevenson finally get around to answering readers' questions on procrastination." Posted May 16, 2008.