Friday, 27 August 2010

Thought for the Day: Putting it Off

I've been meaning to write this article for a long time but........!

In fact, I jest. It was only yesterday that I came up with the idea to write about my personal failures to act promptly. So this opener on the subject of procrastination is merely a cheap joke.

If you were to ask Mr Lovelygrey he would affirm vehemently that I was an arch procrastinator.  As a current example he would eagerly point out the sloe berries in the fridge that were picked over two weeks ago that still need to be immersed in gin.   Further confirmation of the universal truth that 'Lovelygrey procrastinates' could be obtained from my electronic 'To Do' list where a couple of items have lingered on  'Personal Tasks - ASAP' for a year now.  I'm too embarrassed to admit what the are as they're trivial things that would take no time at all.  However,  I assure you that they don't involve extended lapse of personal grooming.  I cut my nails yesterday according to my three weekly schedule and my legs get shaved on a weekly basis thanks to a useful 'To Do' list entry that does not go unheeded.
Now I've had a hunch that putting things off may not be pure procrastination so I turn to my favourite preliminary source of information, Wikipedia. for help.  There, one of the definitions rings true.  There, it suggests that for behavour to be  deemed to be procrastination it must to be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.    I confess that, sometimes, what I do meets this criteria although this is nowhere near as much of a problem as it's  been in the past.  At the worst my life virtually came to a standstilll because of the multiple avoidance tactics that I was employing.  This is because 'a wall of fear' builds up in my mind. Further delay ,of course, causes the barrier to get bigger and bigger and obvoiusly compounds the problem.  However, often when I get eventually get round to a feared task I wonder what the fuss was about.   Now I'm aware of the mental mechanism that causes the distress I consciously take  steps to quickly do what once I would have put off.  Hence I describe a learned example of cognitive-behavioural mechanisms at play!

But other things get delayed, either because I'm too busy and there's only so many hours in a day or because I'm genuinely too exhausted to do what I need to.  These hold ups don't seem to meet the 'needless' part of the criteria which determine procrastination and demand different solutions to address the underlying reason.  For instance, mental plans to energise myself are being formulated as I write.  And of course these delays can sometimes reveal a terrifying truth.  Sometimes  we plan to do things with too much haste or even worse, which weren't really necessary in the first place!

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