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Thursday 18 April 2013

Procrastination Is the Name of the Game

I like my deadlines like I like my men, urgent but not too serious.

In fact I approach deadlines in pretty much the same way I approach men I fancy - ignore them and hope for a miracle.

Well, not ignore them so much as put on an elaborate display of ignoring them, while watching their every move in my compact mirror and having anxiety dreams about them.

Some people have a very straightforward relationship with deadlines. "Aha!" they cry, training their spyglass on the event horizon, "A deadline! My favourite! I shall pack my spotted handkerchief this very day and make steady progress, little and often, until I reach my goal, in good time, with some cheese, bread and spreadsheets left over to share with the mouse I befriended on my journey."

That is not me. I am a thrill seeker and procrastination is how I get my rush. Not buying milk when you're down to the last quarter of the carton, not opening that HMRC package that says "OPEN IMMEDIATELY!",  not wiping the steam off the bus window till you're almost past your stop.

I am tingling at the very thought of the myriad ways in which the daily grind can be avoided, subverted or toyed with like, er, like, chewing gum that you can't get rid of because there's no bin and you threw away the wrapper so you can't spit it into that, you idiot. Where were we? Oh yes!

Procrastination! You sexy, maddening, Mata-Hari of time management! If procrastination is the thief of time, I like to imagine it as a dashing cat-burglar, negotiating the dangerous moonlit rooftops between Netflix and a thousand words on genetic engineering with aplomb. In reality, of course, it is a shifty-eyed nyaff, stuffing your potential down its jogging bottoms.

I know this to be true. I know procrastination is responsible for any number of humiliating failures; birthday gifts of wooden spoons wrapped in newspaper, laddered tights held together with nail varnish, unravelling hems, rambling speeches, blotted copybooks - need I go on?

And yet, I still lock horns with it, still hang onto the messed-up buzz it gives me. Let's face it, a cliff-hanger's not a cliff-hanger if you stop the coach and horses half a mile from the cliff edge, is it? Far better to walk nonchalantly backwards towards the precipice, whistling "Dixie" and teeter on the edge. I am the Harold Lloyd of deadlines, defying gravity, doing my best work when hanging by a thread.

Sometimes a bit of jeopardy is just what we need when a task requires super-human effort. Which makes me think I'd make a pretty great super-hero.

 "Shelagh! I love you! But we only have fourteen hours to save the earth!"

"Put the kettle on, Toots. Plenty of time."

(So, if I'd started a little earlier maybe we wouldn't have lost Alaska. Let's write that up as a learning point.)

Maybe procrastination is bad, maybe I should embrace deadlines, not circle them warily like a neanderthal circling fire. But maybe it's just the way I am.

Sometimes it's fun to defy nightfall and dance in the dusk till the last embers of light are gone. Unless you get eaten by the wolves.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this with 57 minutes to go until I have to submit a cost analysis (not yet started) that is already over a week late.

    Might go and make another cuppa...


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