The value of procrastinating

11:45 Emma Jeffrey 2 Comments

Lately I’ve been wondering what on earth I’ve gotten myself into… I’m in the second year of my part-time MA in Human Resource Management, which basically means things just got WAY real! Alongside my study I work full-time as a HR professional for a London based multinational, a job which comes with a horrible commute. I am also a Mum and a step-Mum to five children. I’m married to a dream of a husband1, and of course have an extended family. This means I have all the commitments that come with keeping high-maintenance people happy.

Current course requirements include two assignments, dissertation reading, preparation of a project proposal, and the ongoing development of a business skills portfolio. Naturally deadlines for these pieces of work overlap and ensure that I, and my friends, are stretched ever so slightly (on a good day) outside of our comfort zones. This will be similar for most of you I'm sure (if you're studying).

It is true taking on an MA has made my already full life a little more challenging. Those people without children or extracurricular commitments ask me how I’m coping all the time. They must expect me to be on my knees behind closed doors. However, thanks to great friends, said dreamy husband¹, a slightly delusional degree of optimism and an ability to entirely disregard the small stuff, I’m bearing up.

This does not make me Superwoman. I am honestly no more productive than you, or any other person. In fact I consider myself to be less so since I am a consistent procrastinator and have strong, sometimes uncontrollable, tendencies toward laziness. I’ve been battling with this lately. Right now in fact, it’s mid-afternoon and I’m sitting on my bed whittling away my valuable time blogging. My five year old son is playing on my iPhone next to me (hey, I never said I was a ‘good’ Mum!). Thanks to Daniel Kahneman2 though I realise these behaviours, sometimes at least, are the result of natural brain function... great news, I’m normal! I also realise I’m not alone. My friends have also been procrastinating. Here are some of the things we’ve been doing instead of the course work we should have been getting on with:

  1. Investing more time and effort in cleaning. Case in point: cleaned the oven.
  2. Decorated the dining room which included the very time consuming job of glossing skirting boards.
  3. Went IKEA shopping and brought feather pillows.
  4. Cooked up a storm in spite of loathing cookery as a pass time.
  5. Binge watched new box sets and TV programmes that have never before appealed… Sam Faires Baby Diaries anyone?
  6. Got sucked into a social media spiral of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snap Chat, Instagram… and repeat… and repeat… and… you get the idea!

I think we all feel much better for sharing our divisive behaviours. I do for sure. Clearly we don’t need science to tell us that our brains are taking the easy road. We are after all grown ass women, and despite being very aware of an array of productivity tools and good habits, we continue to make questionable choices about where to focus our time. But maybe these behaviours are healthy and necessary to our success. While we are busying ourselves, not doing what we should be doing, we are at least talking about it, thinking about it, reading about it (without dedication you understand), perhaps we’ve even got a few bullet points written down.

At some point in this process the fear of failure will tip the balance and we will get stuck in and deliver on time. Perhaps our approach will mean that our final submissions will be more creative than the work of pre-crastinators3 as suggest by Adam Grant4. But at the very least, as Daniel Kahneman2 suggests, we will have increased our happiness. Because throughout this journey we will have stolen time to do the things we find enjoyable. This is the real value of procrastinating.

When this is all over and we look back on our time as students we’ll remember it as fun. We will recall how we succeeded in achieving our Masters alongside holding down full-time jobs, raising our children, keeping our homes (cleaner than ever), sustaining our marriages, and keeping our families happy. All while sharing a group experience of 'not-doing' with Snap Chat photographs, motivational Instagram posts, pictures of the alcohol we are drinking5 and many, many laughs.

Time well spent!

So if you’re reading this now instead of getting-on, don’t feel bad. If you are hard on yourself you will seek out procrastinating activities that you can justify .  Just this week I had to convince one of my dear friends that putting up Christmas decs in early November is NOT okay... not even on the basis that they need to be put up eventually anyway! If you are going to procrastinate make sure you get the very most out of it and make it fun.

Footnotes:

1 Marital rules of blogging dictate that all references to one’s marriage and husband must depict a situation of enviable status with a man no less than a Legend and an Adonis.
2 Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. UK: Penguin Books.
3 Pre-crastination, n. Carrying out tasks immediately in order to get things completed early.
4 Grant, A. (2016). Why I taught myself to procrastinate. New York Times. Available at: www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/opinion/sunday/why-i-taught-myself-to-procrastinate.html?_r=0 (Accessed 11 November 2016).
5 Always drink responsibly!

2 comments :

  1. Really enjoyed this blog, I've just started my MA alongside my full time job and am finding it pretty hard to manage even without children! I'm also great at procrastinating, today instead of doing my work I went and bought a new macbook; telling myself that by doing so I was enabling myself to work in the future and therefore technically doing work.

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  2. Hello Emma! My time was well spent by reading your fabulous post :) I have so much respect for everything that you do! And if writing such an interesting story is procrastination, than that's what I want to be doing as well :)

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