Being fifty-something (and a writer), what I don’t know about procrastinating might not be worth knowing.
My mindful midlife perspective has put the spotlight on a plethora of putting-off practices that can sometimes fly under the radar (unless you’re looking for them).
Here’s a little nomenclature to go with it … a glossary of modern-day procrastination derivations, which you might (or might not) find helpful.
Carefully preparing a list of what needs doing appears (to the uninitiated) to signal an organised mind, a person who gets things done. In fact, the making of the list and the doing of the deeds thereon are entirely different beasts. These two animals rarely occupy the same timezone. (Refer also to: procrasti-planning and procrasti-collating)
Many a batch of banana muffins hides a dark secret. That inexplicable urge to get your Betty Crocker on in the kitchen could be a poorly veiled ploy to avoid another task (for example, tax compilation or ironing). Not sure where to start (or stall) with procrasti-baking? Check out this no-fail muffin recipe on my friend Alex’s Hello From Tassie blog and imagine the horrors you can delay until tomorrow, by baking today.
(No, not what you think). This one is most common mid-week, or mid-afternoon (on a Saturday). You’ll recognise it by the sudden sense that a friend needs your company. You drop everything (anything!) to rush over and check on your pal, stay for coffee, wine, a meal, possibly overnight … whatever it takes to get your mate through. She (or he) always returns the favour in what is now recognised as a chronic condition: “reciprocal procrasti-mating”.
Not just for wankers. A sharp rise in the appetite for this delaying time-devourer correlates directly with the popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Enough said.
This one is easy to diagnose by the excessive ratio of strategising to action. You can often spot the male of the species in the midst of a procrasti-planning episode at Bunnings. Look out for female procrasti-planners in fabric stores, furniture departments or endlessly browsing decorator sites online (some have been known never to return from Ikea). Joint procrasti-planning is a craft practised only by elite practitioners. It requires rhythm, precision and exceptional teamwork not to follow-through with the task. Look for husband and wife teams lazing on sunny decks surveying domestic plots for spots to develop no-dig veggie gardens, imagining rose arbours rising to impress the neighbours or sketching (sketchy) plans for formal parterre gardens. Procrasti-noting is now regarded as an early symptom of full-blown procrasti-planning.
This incremental approach to procrastinating is an easy entry point for novices to dip their toes into the waters of wait-‘til-tomorrow without diving into the oceans of never-going-to-happen. The step-by-step approach works through a series of assertions from “I’m thinking about it” and “I’ve got it on my list” through to “I’m half done” and “I should have that to you tomorrow”. It’s about shifting mindset from “can-do” to “could-do” and “why-do?” and finally on to the supreme procrasti-negating style of “not my department”.
This is the free-form of procrastinating, the interpretive dance of delay. Here, you can improvise your very own, personal expression of adjournment using the traditional steps of dally, dawdle, linger and loiter intermingled with more contemporary moves such as schlep along, scrounge around or chill out. Transforming prolong and protract into an art form puts you one step closer to making the world your stage.
This one is not for the feint of heart. It requires forsaking the mountain of paid copywriting projects in your in-tray for the sake of providing your blog readers with a vitally important (possibly world-changing) article that simply has to be written. This one is my personal favourite.
Now, armed with your procrasti-glossary, go forth and shilly-shally with the best of us.