Why Procrastination is Good for You

In a new book, University of San Diego professor Frank Partnoy argues that the key to success is waiting for the last possible moment to make a decision

In his new book, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, Frank Partnoy claims that when faced with a decision, we should assess how long we have to make it, and then wait until the last possible moment to do so. (Book jacket: Courtesy of Pete Garceau; Portrait: Courtesy of Fergus Greer)

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What is your next big question?

I am intrigued by epistemology and the question of how we know what we know and the limitations on knowledge. There is an idea circling around the back of my brain. But I am going to take the medicine I advise other people to take, and wait. Let it sit and brew.

This interview series focuses on big thinkers. Without knowing whom I will interview next, only that he or she will be a big thinker in their field, what question do you have for my next interview subject?

I would like to know how your subject knows what they know. What is it about their research and experience and background that leads them to a degree of certainty about their views? With what degree of confidence do they hold that idea? Is it 100 percent? Is it 99 percent? Is it 90 percent?

From my last interviewee, evolutionary biologist Sergey Gavrilets: What would you like to have more opportunity to do or more time to do if you had the chance?

I would like to have more time to play golf, actually. I often have my best creative breakthroughs, to the extent I have them at all, on the golf course—when I have a period of five hours to be around grass and trees with a straightforward but maddening task to occupy me.


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