August 03, 2010

Procrastination: Oh the worst of all the human characteristics

March 16th, 2010

Why is it that the worst thing about work is starting? I mean, I can get into almost anything once I've started, regardless of how I feel or what better things there are to do, but these latter parameters always seem to affect my ability to start in the first place. I don't really understand why.

This morning, I got up with the rest of my family at around 7am, ready to start work as soon as I had got dressed and had breakfast. Great idea, it seemed. Well, it would have been, except that now it's 8:48 and I'm STILL not started. Instead I have managed to occupy myself with various other menial and pointless tasks that "just need to be done first" before I get down to the lever-arch folder's worth of work that is waiting for me.

This morning, in order to avoid putting off work for just that little bit longer, I have:
- Emptied the dishwasher
- Filed away all of last term's work
- Made 4 cups of coffee
- Had a Facebook friends clearout
- Tidied my Mum's desk

Of course, all of these jobs just HAD to be done right this second; my ability to work greatly impaired until they were all out of the way. Admittedly, the last on the list was the closest to actually being necessary - I indeed did need to clear it before I start work, but to make a big deal out of it such as I did was just nothing but a pointless, procrastinatory exercise.

My favourite time-wasting activity is making cups of coffee. I drink a LOT of coffee, and consequently I am nurturing a tremendous caffeine addiction. But I don't make coffee necessarily because I love the taste: I make it purely to waste a little bit of time so that I don't have to work. "I'll just go and make a cuppa, then I'll be able to work properly".

As I have six weeks until the final exams, I really really really ought not to be wasting as much time as I am doing. I have procrastinated and wasted away almost all of this term, and now have so much work to do in the last six weeks that it is going to take a miracle to get it all done. So why, WHY can't I just sit down and do it?

Procrastination is one of those universal human characteristics; we are all guilty of it, albeit to varying degrees, although only when it becomes chronic - grave to a point where one gets nothing done but fritters away all available time in which to do a task - does it become a problem. I guess that if you put off a task for a long time, someone else may eventually do it for you, but if you have a task which only you can do, then putting it off is both nonsensical and futile. Procrastination serves only to shorten the amount of time available to do a task, rendering it therefore exponentially more difficult with the more time wasted. (Unless, of course, that the reason for your procrastination is not to delay a difficult task, but only to delay an ODIOUS task, when wasting time before starting serves only to heighten the anticipation of the odium and therefore, indeed, worsen its extent).

I would say that the task I have before me, however, falls into neither of these categories. I guess that the idea of working all day at something I find less than enthralling is an ARDUOUS task, but not necessarily difficult or odious. But that's what I mean by heightening anticipation - the IDEA of working all day is no doubt going to be far worse than ACTUALLY working all day. And here I arrive back to my original point, that the worst thing about work is starting.

Procrastination takes strange forms, it seems. Usually I find unneccesary, thoughtless tasks to occupy my time, although today I have acutally written this note to waste time. WHY did I do that? These notes take a fair bit of thought, so I have actually done some work in order to avoid doing work. Oh GOD! See what I mean about chronic procrastination?!

Right, now that I really have wasted enough time, I am just off to make a cuppa, then I will get started!! (But not before I have de-scaled the kettle).

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