There are two types of procrastination, passive and active. The first is the type our superegos, parents, and significant others are always warning us against: Getting stuck in uncertainty and failing to act quickly. But sometimes, unknown to our internal and external critics, we engage in actively putting things off, writes Anna Abramowski. Although we're fully capable of completing a task quickly, we choose not to, because we're focusing our attention on another goal that's more important to us. Unlike passive procrastinators, the active variety tend to be self-reliant, autonomous, and self-confident. In other words, active procrastination is nothing to be ashamed of. It can lead to inspiration and innovation. Best of all, Abramowski says, it can help us break out of from "productive mediocrity" — accomplishing a lot of tasks that don't add up to a hill of beans. —Andy O'Connell
It’s a sad commentary on corporate culture that women who try to balance employment and child-raising still feel like they're violating workplace norms. In a study of 2,000 employees, a team of sociologists found that women who worked part-time or took extended leave after having children felt stigmatized more often than did childless women who took comparable time off. Of course, women with children get a double whammy: They not only feel they’ve transgressed against workplace standards, they also carry the burden of having violated gender norms about what it means to be a good mother. Men, regardless of whether they had children, did not report feeling as though they were punished for working nonstandard hours.
That brings us to the issue of hours worked and compensation. Businessweek's Sheelah Kolhatkar recently analyzed research from Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, who found that "companies offering true, stigma-free flexibility and linear compensation — meaning the same pay per hour worked, regardless of when it is worked — have the lowest gaps in pay between men and women — and, in many cases, more women employees overall." In other words, letting go of ideas about what "normal" work looks like and where it takes place could boost equality — and possibly make mothers (and fathers) happier and more productive.
A piano, a frying pan, a typewriter, and a paintbrush are demanding technologies — they take time and practice to master. Automatic transmissions, instant mashed potatoes, and iPhones are convenience technologies, which require less effort to yield predictable results. Making something more convenient is one of the time-tested paths to innovation, disruptive and otherwise. Conveniences open up life’s pleasures to a wider range of people. But in this thoughtful piece, Columbia Law professor Tim Wu makes the case for inconvenience, pitting the advantages of doing more against the benefits of learning more. "It isn’t somehow wrong to use a microwave rather than a wood fire to reheat leftovers," he says. "But we must take seriously our biological need to be challenged, or face the danger of evolving into creatures whose lives are more productive but also less satisfying." —Andrea Ovans
What will Facebook look like in 10 years? Harvard Business School's Mikolaj Jan Piskorski offers his predictions, and they don't involve hoards of teens abandoning the social network forever. Piskorski argues that the site will go from a retrospective medium, which we use to post about things that have already happened, to a prospective medium that will gather our real-time data and make it useful for both users and advertisers. He sees Facebook as "less of a website to visit than an invisible conduit to the most important aspects of people's lives." That conduit will, of course, entail the gathering of boatloads of personal data. It’s on this point that "Facebook will need to execute as flawlessly as possible," or everything could go awry. If the site's "main driver is to use the technology for invasive and intrusive paths toward profit, Facebook's future may well be questionable."
The highest-paid interns are raking in something north of $80,000 (or they would be if you annualized their monthly stipends), underscoring the intensity of the war for talent, particularly among companies in the high-tech and energy sectors. Fully 18 of the firms that make Glassdoor’s list of the highest-paying companies for interns are based in San Francisco (suggesting a transfer of wealth not so much to the next generation of Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and eBay employees as to Bay Area landlords). Topping the list is big-data-mining software firm Palantir, which is trying to entice the best young minds with $7,012 a month, though at least one Palantir intern claims that "very few people are there just for the money." Easy to say with more than $20,000 in your pocket at summer’s end. —Andrea Ovans