Saturday Morning Chit Chat, Just A Minute…A Word On Procrastination

procrastinationSometimes you just need to celebrate the things that you are good at doing. It’s not really a self-indulgent romp or even an arrogant foray into self-centredness.  No, it’s really an honest and open acknowledgement of strength, a graceful nod to something you do well. I’m going to spend a small amount of time looking at a subject that I occasionally excel in, but also I want to acknowledge a few true masters of the art.  I want to look at the art of procrastination.

Who doesn’t love to indulge in the occasional moment of procrastination? At it’s core, procrastination is about taking your time, delaying the inevitable or avoiding it all together, if you are very clever.  Who doesn’t think the slow food movement is a great idea?  Aren’t we always being told to slow down and smell the coffee? Doing less has got to be a stress buster. Don’t we all want to take a deep breath and then do absolutely nothing? Who doesn’t enjoy a good tangent?

 “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

Mark Twain

If you are really good at it, and I have aspired to master status on occasion, you can procrastinate for years.  It seems like a challenging feat I know, but with enough…drive (??) you too can delay doing all the things that are boring, tedious, of questionable value and dubious moral fibre. With time, focus and dedication, anyone can become a master procrastinator. In fact, you may have attained the status without knowing it. Are you frustrated by “early bird” specials? Are you usually politely late for dinner parties?

In fairness, I should point out that procrastination is in my genes. My family comes from Barbados and if you’ve ever been to the islands, you know that West Indians simply can’t be rushed. I was going to concert in Barbados with a cousin of mine a few years ago. It started at seven that night and that’s around the time he arrived home, then he took a shower and got changed. Then we had a drink. On our way to the concert, about nine, we saw a friend and stopped to chat. In the middle of the road, in our cars. We arrived at the concert around ten. The band hadn’t started playing yet.

“Bajan time real special, ya, it made for you and me,                                          and it ain’t got one damn thing to do with punctuality.”

Jeanette Layne-Clarke

Now some may scoff at the thought.  Who, they say with some contempt, would ever want to be a procrastinator? What good could ever come of it? Well, tell that to Richard Sheridan, a playwright and politician, who finished writing the final act of his play, The School for Scandal, while it was being performed. Can you imagine what the actors on stage were doing while waiting for their lines?  I hope they were good procrastinators.  Then there is Leonardo da Vinci, great art takes time, but 16 years to finish the Mona Lisa? It’s not that big. If he’s not a procrastinator, I don’t understand the meaning of the word. There are more of course, but I’ll have to share them with you later.

By the way, I was going to post this article last March during procrastination week, yes, that’s real, but…well, you know. If you’re looking for ways to be useful during your procrastination attempts, then wander over to Patricia Weber’s Blog, she has an excellent post called, “What is Productive Procrastination?”

If you’d enjoy a few minutes more of avoidance, then please listen to the following poem written by Jeanette Layne-Clarke  and read by Alfred Pragnell. It’s very funny and captures the spirit of how Bajan’s view time perfectly. The poem starts at the two minute mark.

I hope you enjoyed a good moment of avoidance while reading this post.  Has procrastination ever gotten you in trouble? Have you ever procrastinated and it ended up being one of the best things you could have done?


0 responses to “Saturday Morning Chit Chat, Just A Minute…A Word On Procrastination

  • I do believe I have mastered the art of procrastination. I can’t say it’s ever been a good thing, but mostly it hasn’t hurt either. I like to think it is good for my health 🙂

  • I got better and better at procrastinating the longer I went to school. There used to be the day when I got everything done right away, and often ahead of time. Then came the time I had to write a 20-page paper with citations standing up at the breakfast bar because my apartment didn’t have any furniture in it. Once I pulled that feat off in a 12-hour span, I shook my head and wondered what good it did me to be to thorough if I could accomplish the same result in a lot less time by putting it off?

    • A powerful and dangerous discovery Jeri. Why plan indeed when you can procrastinate and still reach your goals? Of course, like all super powers, they have to be handled responsibly. 🙂

  • Nobody procrastinates more than a writer. Funny how often you need to use the bathroom and visit the refrigerator to see if something has magically appeared since the last time you checked five minutes ago. Oh, and the phone calls you need to make. Anything not to sit down and write!

    • You called it Jeanette. I feel like I have acquired ninja procrastinating powers since I started writing a blog. Domestic chores that I have been dodging for years are suddenly the focus of my attention if it means that I can delay putting words on the screen for a little longer. The strangest thing is, I write the blog for pleasure. If I can figure out a way to get what’s in my head into the blog without any of that awkward writing bit, I’ll have it made. 🙂

  • Procrastinators Unite!

    Enjoyed your post, Debra. 🙂

  • hahaha, the story that Susan shared above has happened to me, too! lol – well, i didn’t forget about the report but i really didn’t have the energy and the time to do it and when the boss didn’t want it after all – then i learnt that not all urgent things are created equal and have the same priority 😀

    as for the procrastination – i most often catch myself procrastinating repetitive work that doesn’t really challenge me in any way (that’s how boring it is!); or household work (cleaning and all). But then again, i remember a picture i saw once on Facebook saying that a housewife can do more work at home (cleaning, dusting, dishes, etc.) in 10 min. before her friends arrived for a coffee than the previous 5 consecutive days LOL – now, that’s what i call procrastination 😉

    • I’m not a house wife, but that definitely describes me Diana. I can clean like a genie when someone is about to visit, but I can’t even pronounce “domestic chores” when there is no deadline.

  • Is there even a singly human being who has never procrastinated? Sometimes, like Pat points out it can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

    Procrastination becomes a problem when it happens because of a fear or fobia of something. There are an abundance of people in this world that have a fear of success and hence procrastinate. It works more or less like fear of failure but it’s almost always a subconsious phenomena, which makes it more dangerous. So if you notice that you keep on finding excuses for doings something. Even prefer cleaning your house when you should be studying for an exam, you have better analyse yourself to make sure you are not afraid of succeeding. If you are and don’t sort yourself out you will ruin your life.

    • Well said. When procrastination becomes insidious, when it starts happening to things you think are important and that you value, then it’s time to stop and consider what is really behind the delays.

  • You’re talking a language I really understand, Debra. The biggest thing I procrastinate on is dealing with the poles of magazines everywhere in our home and my office. As someone who has built my writing career on writing for magazines, I’ve always had waaaay too many mags around the house as many come to me as free subscriptions. Once in awhile I make an effort to throw some out, but it takes time & effort to go thru them, so I guess it will just have to wait for another day … 🙂

    • I had to laugh at the example you gave. Not long ago I was giving my son grief over the National Geographics that were piling up. I wasn’t long into the conversation when he said, what about those decorating magazines, they’ve been here for years. I decided he could keep his if I could keep mine. Holding onto magazines isn’t procrastinating as much as preserving for future use. 🙂

  • We all procrastinate a little bit right!! just depends on the task. I see myself doing it just now. It can’t be helped. Well sometimes at least

    fun post :>

  • Eleanor Bell says:
    September 7, 2013 @ 03:58 pm

    A fun read! 🙂

  • First, thanks for the mention Debra! You are so kind.

    Then to your last question: Have you ever procrastinated and it ended up being one of the best things you could have done? Yes ma’am. Sort of like your family genes and not getting early to the concert. But instead of getting there early and sitting and waiting, you could have missed your friends!

    This is the benefit of procrastination. Although we all certainly know we don’t want to make it a welcome stay-forever guest.

    • As much as I like to procrastinate, I know that deadlines exist for a reason and they are usually good ones. It’s just that not all things have to be done immediately and as you noted in your post, there are benefits to be had from procrastinating well. 🙂

  • I love procrastination. There is less stress involved.

  • Sometimes I put things off just to add pressure to myself. I seem to deliver well under pressure. Maybe that’s why I have put off so many things all of my life! I think the key, now, is to think I have a deadline, even when I don’t. Then, I’ll deliver, AHEAD of schedule!

  • Gosh and I thought I was the master at procrastination… my bubble is now officially burst… LOL I remember a time when I put off ding a report for a boss that said he needed it yesterday. That’s when I learned that sometimes people ask for things, a spontaneous request and then forget about it. My colleagues rushed to get the report done at the expense of they operation. I went about taking care of business (no report was produced). A week or so later, my boss berated the other managers for letting things slip and mentioned me as one you knew how to set my priorities. The truth was I had procrastinate doing the report and had forgotten about it… LOL. Just goes to show, huh. 🙂

    • Don’t feel bad Susan, like I said, it’s in the genes. 🙂 I love that story. It puts it all in perspective. The flip side of course is that my procrastination should never become a colleague’s emergency. 🙂

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