The increasing difficulty of getting a round tuit

It’s not that I’m a lazy bastard, honest. Maybe I’m just an optimist, perpetually looking forward to tomorrow, when stuff will actually get done. And if not tomorrow, then there’s always tomorrow’s tomorrow. Übermorgen (‘overmorrow’) as it’s called in German.

procrastinate (vi) — to put off or defer action, [C16: Latin procrastinare from pro- in favour of + cras tomorrow]

‘Procrastinate’ is first attested in English in the sixteenth century, so I wonder what they did until then. Probably they just ‘putte it offe unto the morrow’.

In the meantime, while I’m not doing what I should be doing, I’m easily tempted by the Siren song of non-urgent tasks.

It’s not that I want to evade my responsibilities. I just like to postpone them a bit. Do something nicer and less irksome first.

It’s perverse. It’s self-defeating. I acknowledge that by being stress averse, I’m actually increasing my stress level. It makes no sense, not even to me.

I carry around in my head umpteen things that are going to need doing soon. The ‘too hard basket’ is full to overflowing. No wonder I occasionally forget how old I am or what ‘cilantro’ is called in British English.

There is peace for the wicked, though, or at any rate mindfulness for procrastinators. When I’m walking in nature, playing music or engaged in another creative activity, it anchors me in the present, turns off the to-do list in my head.

It also gives me (at least in my own mind) an alibi for going temporarily AWOL from adulthood. At least I’m doing something.

My fondness for procrastination sometimes leads to conversations like this one with my wife:

“When are you going to (insert minor or major repair job here), Hubbo?”

“One day, Wifey, one day … Though possibly not in our lifetime.”

Okay, so I do have some drawbacks as a spouse. I’m not one of those handyhusbands who are continually looking for something to fix, odd jobs to undertake. Like a two-legged Border Collie with power tools. I’m fairly sure that Hire A Hubby wouldn’t accept me on their payroll.

‘It’ does tend to get done, eventually. (No, not by my wife. Do give us both some credit.) When the time is auspicious and the planets are in alignment, ‘it’ will be done swiftly and without fuss.

Then, when ‘it’ is done, I like to marvel at it for a while. ‘Ooh! Look at that! I’m happy with that …’ Sometimes followed a day or two later by ‘Oh, look at that! That really is shit … I wish I’d done that better.’

Is my procrastination mere self-indulgence? Very possibly.

Ah, but then …

I’ve spent decades meeting deadlines with monotonous reliability. I’ve been pathologically punctual, relentlessly meticulous, odiously organised. I’ve been the go-to guy for getting stuff done on time, regardless of the feasibility of actually doing so.

But jeez … it gets harder with every passing year. I’m sick of deadlines. (Maybe literally?) It doesn’t matter how hard you work, there’s always another bloody deadline. I swear: the little bastards mate and multiply in dark crevices in my schedule …

Perhaps this predilection for procrastination, this delight in dallying, this tendency to tarry — growing stronger as I approach threescore years on this planet — is just my way of extending two fingers in a quiet ‘fuck you’ to the pompous tyranny of schedules.

Like a sullen English archer defying the shiny, armoured ranks of French knights at Crécy or Agincourt.

I’m doing it right now. There’s something else I really should be doing, but right now I can’t be arsed. I’d rather do this.

How about you?

Right, then. Back to work. Where was I … ?

Photo by Karo Kujanpaa on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Procrastination

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