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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Maybe tomorrow...

'stands up'

My name is Louise West and I am a procrastinator.

There, I've said it. Eventually.

It's a habit that I've been living with for years. I inherited it from my Dad, a world-class champion in "getting round to it". Our unofficial family motto is "manana" and I'm considering incorporating it into the family crest, when I get round to it. In a weird way, I'm actually quite proud of my procrastination pedigree.

I've always had a tendency to put things off until the last moment. As a baby, I resisted attempts to bottom-shuffle or pull myself up using furniture. Instead I watched carefully until I had sussed out the whole "balancing on two legs" business and went straight to walking. At school, I was the one staying up all night the day before an essay as due in, but still getting good grades. It never seemed to do me any harm and, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, deadlines make such a lovely whooshing sound as they fly past. I like to mull, to ponder, to consider my options before committing- and then go hell for leather at  whatever it is I've made up my mind to do. You only get one shot at life and I want to get it right first time as much as possible. So I prefer to call myself a delayed perfectionist.

I'd also like to clear up another misconception. Contrary to popular belief, procrastination is not the same as being indecisive or lazy. I can make up my own mind- I just like to do it in my own time. Perfection cannot be rushed. Also, I'm not lazy: I work very hard- especially in the last 24 hours before something important is due.

True procrastination is actually a lot of hard work. Here are my top tips for managing a procrastination habit.

1. Start tidy.

I cannot concentrate on work if I am surrounded by mess. Put off that detailed report until you have cleaned the skirting board and rearranged your wardrobe by colour. In times of true desperation, you could always hoover.

2. Make a list.

Writing a list feels like working without actually having to do any proper work. The added bonus is that you can do this while enjoying tea and cake. After a good long list, I often need to have a little sit down. This is acceptable.

3. Prioritise tasks.

This is an extension of Tip 2. You can use post-it notes, preferably colour-coded to signify urgency. It gives you a healthy overview of how long you have before you're going to get into serious trouble, and allows opportunities for putting something off until tomorrow. This is good because it you may find that you have more time today to do fun stuff, like reading a book.

4. Facebook/Twitter.

Now you're almost ready to begin. Note that I say almost. I can't settle to a task if I have that nagging feeling that I'm missing out on something more interesting. It completely ruins my productive mood. Always begin a work session with a perusal of social media to check that the world can spare you for a couple of hours or that you're not missing out on any cute pictures of cats.

5. Remember something important.

Before you dive into that stack of paperwork covered in angry post-it notes, stop and think. When did you last descale the kettle? Have the dogs been walked today? Are you out of cake? Don't make the mistake of committing to an endeavour that doesn't have your full attention- your heart won't be in it. Walk away and come back when you can devote your time and energy fully. It'll still be there tomorrow. Or maybe next week.

I hope you found my top tips useful and that you get round to trying them someday.
What top tips can you share with me?


  1. Ha ha hah hah hahah! That was me reading your post. This morning I woke with a head ache and some sort of bug thing, Yuk! So not wanting to infect the little darlings at school I stayed home. As you you know I am some what of a procrastinator myself. I have a couple more assignments to do before next week when my folder needs to be checked, so I decided to take the 'bug given' opportunity to do some work on it.
    Firstly I hoovered and did some washing, then I cleaned the rabbit hutch.
    Next I made a list adding the hoovering and rabbit hutch cleaning to it and ticking them off. I went to the shops for assignment writing supplies and when I got back I made a cup of tea (no lunch... bug, remember)and checked out Twitter, facebook and blogs.
    Now I think I am ready to start, I'll just get another cup of tea.

    Thank you Lou, you made me laugh so much. I love reading your blog.

    1. I found this and thought you might like it:

      To do list1. Make a to-do list (check)2. Check off the first thing on the list (check)3. Realize you have already accomplished two things (check)4. Reward yourself with a nap (in progress)

  2. Haha! Can't believe I neglected to mention my monumental tea-drinking habit as a means of procrastination! It's doubleplusgood because you don't just spend time making it- you have to release it too! Extra minutes wasted! Hurrah! Good luck with your assignments xxx


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