'Wasting' Time: How I Embraced Procrastination and Got Things Done

'Wasting' Time: How I Embraced Procrastination and Got Things Done

NSMAN-MAG-NOV-DEC-2017

Back in the mid-1990s, when I was doing my basic military training, I remember it was quite confusing to be a recruit - you couldn't always tell if your platoon sergeant was serious, making a joke or being ironic. Like that time rain made the concrete floors in camp wet.

"Take your time, guys, don't fall down ah," he said. Which in our ears was: "Take your time! (You dare?) Don't fall down! (Move!)."

We didn't know if he was being sarcastic. Within seconds, every last one of us hightailed it and sprinted across the slick surface like there was no tomorrow! The flabbergasted sergeant just shook his head.

Speaking of taking you time, dithering, deliberating, or putting something off, we can all relate to procrastination.

Why do we do it? Sometimes, you may feel like you have no control over your time, there's just too much to do in too little time, and you put off daunting tasks for one reason or another. You could have writer's block. Or, you're a perfectionist; if it's not done well, it's not worth doing at all - so do it later (after binge-watching a few series on Netflix).

Realising how you procrastinate, and why, is a good start to getting it under control. For me, I sometimes work at home, in local libraries or cafes, and in my employer's offices.

Before I wrote this article at my dining table, I had already procrastinated: I fed and played with my dog (vigorous belly-rubbing took place), made breakfast, washed the dishes and cleaned the floor (I briefly considered cleaning the fans, too).

I also meditated for a while, seated upright, my eyes closed. Then my playful dog nosed in a delicate area and I leapt up in fright.

People can do crazy things when they procrastinate. They'll start to reorganise their Star Wars Lego collectibles, bake dozens of cupcakes (something I've caught my daughter doing), play with childhood toys and maybe get obsessive-compulsive about housework.

I've read that procrastination can be countered by taking time to understand the root causes. Some experts recommend time-management tips and breaking daunting tasks into manageable bits. One columnist said to embrace your procrastinating spirit.

I agree. So, I say don't fight it, embrace it. Turn your procrastination into meaningful time. This could mean going for a run or going to the gym. Or, you could learn a new language; every time you take your attention away from a task, pick up a phrase book! Or, you could learn to become a great pastry chef.

Me? I've chosen exercise at times when I'm working at home. In between assignments and tasks, or instead of them, I will step into the living room and do 50 squats, crunches or lunges. The more I procrastinate, the more I do. So, when my wife comes home and I'm moaning and whinging about aching all over, she'll ask "Why, what you been doing all day? Did you go to the gym?"

To which i'll reply, with absolutely no sarcasm intended: "Where got time? I've been writing and editing all day!".

This article was first featured in NSMAN Magazine (Nov/Dec 2017) Issue.

You can find the article and magazine issues online via the NSman app.


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