Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Meditation on Procrastination

by Freya Derby

I have very little will power. It’s a problem and I frequently find myself amazed at my own ability to get up in the morning. On the weekend, without the immediate threat of school, it is a much more challenging prospect. I tend to procrastinate this particular undertaking in ten minute intervals. If I don’t get up at seven am exactly, I might as well wait until ten past. If it’s eleven past, then I can afford an extra ten minutes. I’ve discovered that there are only three possible solutions to this. A very annoying alarm clock situated out of arm's reach, my father's removal of the duvet and application of cold water or leaping up before I remember I’m tired. However, as I do not have any inclination to sentence my future self to such torture (although my future self is less sympathetic with the me whose catching the bus depends upon her) and do not wish to encourage this kind of behaviour from my father,  I am left with one, rather unpredictable option which relies solely on the fact that I realise I’m awake when I wake up. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not the case. I recognise my tiredness before I’m awake and am doomed to endure at least ten minutes of opposing interior monologues before
With no immediate ending to that sentence coming to mind, I decided to procrastinate for a couple of minutes whilst I thought about it.  Two days later, I find that time has not resolved this issue. As is the nature of procrastination, I’m stuck at the same point but with much less time.
…my voice of reason triumphs and I am thrust into a day of constant deadlines.
Unfortunately, my work ethic is similar. If a job is menial enough to do with the distraction of television…
I spend at least five minutes pondering over my use of the word television. In blog article, it seems too formal. But TV doesn’t sound right either. I check Facebook and once again return to find that the same problem remains. I consider how strange it is that I do not notice this at the time, when I wrote about it less than ten lines ago.
…then it's all very well. The difficulty arises when this job finishes mid-programme…
I am prepared to repeat the events caused by the word 'television' but as I can think of no alternative I decide to power through…
…and I convince myself that I can multitask. I can’t. It is not convenient for me to remember this before each attempt. The listening distracts me from the thinking and as a result I give up the thinking so as to focus on the listening. Whilst watching TV, I can cut paper into small pieces, play snake, tidy my bedroom (for a couple of minutes), and draw on my face to see what I would look like with a black eye. It isn’t a successful method. I have, however, watched every episode of Scrubs so that’s a bonus...
Reading what I’ve written, I feel unsatisfied with it. I feel compelled to finish it tomorrow. Writing an article about procrastination makes it very difficult to ignore the symptoms and so I take a few minutes to tell myself, with what I consider impressive willpower, that I must persevere and to give up now would be unwise. Then I go to bed. Unfortunately, recognising the disease is of little comfort if you cannot cure it.
So what can I do? I am not confident in my ability to stay focused at all costs, and the little conviction I had that my willpower will triumph when the moment comes is diminishing with the passing of each opportunity. A brief internet search provided me with answers that can all be summarised as ‘Just do it’. One website tells me to “Stop thinking, start doing”, “Take the first step” and “Make a decision, any decision”. I find these slightly unhelpful , particularly the third, as I am chronically indecisive and seem to be unable to make a decision without sufficient planning time, an outside opinion (which I generally disregard) and exactly the right amount of pressure. In fact, I had to consult a family member on my usage of the word chronically in the last sentence.
I decide that I’ve covered pretty much everything I set out to. It only remains for me to conclude. But that can wait until tomorrow…


  1. Great article and very cleverly written... though it has distracted me from completing my English essay!


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