I’ve just spent about 20 minutes not looking at this page. In that time I managed to: make a cup of tea (because ‘I’ll work better’), half-hearted tidied my desk (by which I mean throw away the remnants of today’s lunch and two diet coke cans), had three Whatsapp conversations and stared into the abyss of The Internet ‘looking for ideas’. Instead of ‘ideas’ I found and read a full article (with video) about ‘the Panda Sutra’. Panda sex.
There’s a reason serial procrastinators think about procrastination so much and that is because doing so deflects entirely from whatever they’re doing at the time. I am one of those people. I work well with a super tight deadline - I can write quickly with little error if there’s a metaphorical gun-shaped deadline awaiting me with an editor, I love it when work gets urgent, which is why I love my job. But give me two weeks to complete something and I am a law until myself.
I’m not lazy, but I am perennially distracted. Earlier this week I was late to meet a friend for lunch because, whilst drying my hair, I started reading a 12,000 word article that I couldn’t put down. When I eventually zoned back into reality, I had half an hour to do an hour’s journey across London. I started rushing, then spent another ten minutes looking for tweezers to pluck one, singular rogue eyebrow out. I was unsurprisingly - and unnecessarily - very late.
Financial procrastination means that I’m happy to spend one bazillion pounds per month on coffee and pain au chocolat, but never quite get around to booking the trips I’ve been planning for months. I’d rather make myself too late to do a food shop than put in the effort to do it.
But - there is a God - this week I saw a heartening suggestion whilst googling ‘procrastination’ that it can actually be good for you. Dr Tom Buckley (hero) says that there is such a thing as ‘positive procrastination’ and that might even make us better at what we do.
He says that having time away from the task in hand is ‘beneficial to have time to reflect, think and review - and then come back to the project with a fresh lens’.
I agree with Dr Tom entirely. Which is why, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and stare at Instagram for a full hour whilst I dream up the perfect ending for this column…