Ah, the art of procrastination. It’s amazing how much time one can dedicate to preparing for a long day working hard, without realising that this so-called “preparation” is actually a form of procrastination in itself.
Take this example – a few weeks ago my boyfriend, Matt, and I arrived on the university campus in anticipation of a productive afternoon – in his case, work on the all-important dissertation, in mine, catch-up work from various (justified) absences.
I collected my work from my department (a big thick hefty envelope full of 3 weeks’ worth of academic wonders) and then returned to the computer. After looking through the work (after all, it’s important to read everything through to get an idea of what you’re working on, right? And if reading it through happens to take a considerable amount of time… hey, that’s no-one’s fault) I decided it would be best to spread it all out at one of the group study tables so I could do some hardcore writing. This took up another 10 minutes – I felt it important to have the work in some sort of organised layout, and changed my mind several times.
A few minutes into my note-making, I decided I needed some different-coloured pens to make my work more legible, easy to follow and generally aesthetically pleasing. So I went to the SU Shop to buy some red and blue biros. That sorted, I sat down… and realised I was hungry. And after all, how can one possibly work without first feeding their brain?
In the end, I wrote about half a page. Even so, I managed to spend several hours on campus.
Another dangerous enemy is the seemingly innocuous “work break” – having completed half an hour’s procrastinating on decidedly non-academic websites such as Facebook and calling it work, Matt and I will often decide we’re long due a break. So we’ll go the bar in our Students’ Union. And have a drink. And another. Maybe a sandwich. Work breaks never last less than an hour and a half…
This morning, I woke up with the best of intentions. I found my envelope full of catch-up work, bsat up in bed, and began to read intently. I made it through a whole page before thoughts of procrastination (cunningly disguised as well-motivated, work-oriented suggestions) started to creep into my mind…
“If only I had a highlighter to underline the most important passages…”
“Perhaps I’d be better off making notes, to re-inforce what I’m reading…”
“Well, the Internet’s not working at the moment, and the library is much more conducive to study…”
An hour and a half later, I’m setting up my laptop in the library. Signed into MSN, e-mailed checked, Facebook duties carried out, iTunes set up… I’m all ready to work.
Except, in all the excitement at the prospect of a productive working day… I’ve left my actual work at home.
Still, having come all the way up here, it seems a shame to waste a bus journey. I think I’ll head to the bar…