University of San Diego professor and author Frank Partnoy argues that we make better decisions and lead happier lives when we delay our responses and actions until the last possible moment.
“The Greeks and Romans generally regarded procrastination very highly,” Partnoy says in a Smithsonian.com interview. “The wisest leaders embraced procrastination and would basically sit around and think and not do anything unless they absolutely had to.”
In his new book, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, Partnoy outlines a two-step process used by successful decision makers in all walks of life. First, he suggests, ask: What is the longest amount of time I can take before doing this? Secondly, hold off on responding until the last moment.
“Epiphany stories are generally not true,” says Partnoy. “Isaac Newton did not have an apple fall on his head. Thomas Edison did not suddenly discover the light bulb. Innovation goes at a glacial pace and should go at a glacial pace.”