Wednesday, 18 June 2014

TED Talks – Because Procrastination Can Be Productive Too

by Julia Alsop

Apparently, 95% of us procrastinate.  In 1978, around 5% of the population admitted to being ‘chronic offenders’ – I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that this level has risen to 20% in 2014 (and still rising!). No doubt this rise is the result, primarily, of the Internet.

Many a time have we been told that we shouldn’t procrastinate and should retain our focus, but let’s face it – that’s a lot easier said than done. With websites like Buzzfeed offering us quizzes on which Game of Thrones house we’d be (FYI I’m House Targaryen) or plenty of yet-to-be-viewed series on Netflix, perhaps it is not at all surprising that you end up doing that essay in the early hours of the morning.

Whilst, obviously excess procrastination is not the best idea (still do your homework and revision, folks!), there are ways you can procrastinate constructively and usefully online, if you really MUST wait until the next ‘round’ number (because of course you just CAN’T start working at 19:37) before cracking out the books. My favourite tactic for this is simple: TED talks.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and as an organization promotes the spreading of ideas, which consists of short talks (30 mins max) on a massively diverse range of subjects (more than 1700 talks online), presented by world experts, creative geniuses and then people who have done something really special in their life. The speakers seek to teach you a little bit about what they’ve found or to make you think about something in a different way- just generally enriching.

For me, it offers just that little bit of knowledge or perspective which I think are so very beneficial in our understanding of obscure yet fascinating information – and in many cases, the talks can also be used to try to improve ourselves a bit too, or encourage us to embrace things that we might have seen as holdbacks to our own success. So if you’re going to procrastinate, why not learn something interesting at the same time?

TED even runs a few official conferences a year, and one day I’d love to attend, not least because of the talks but also the TED gift bags, famed for their exciting and generous contents. However, since I don’t have a spare $6000 knocking around for the ticket alone (Yeah, I know – it’s pretty steep), I’ll have to be content for now watching the talks on the TED website.

Now, I had intended to select a few of my favourite TED talks and share them with this article so that you may be as hooked as I am but, as I gaze at the website, I realize it is impossible for me to choose only a few. But I recommend that you have a look on the TED website and have a quick search for a talk that interests you and having a healthy procrastination session- because it can be beneficial to have a bit of low-guilt procrastination once in a while.

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