Why do we procastinate? Of all the human foibles, this one particularly fascinates me, probably because we don’t just procastinate about things that we don’t actually want to do – we also seem to procastinate when it comes to things that are quite pleasant or that we enjoy. It’s the strangest thing. I tend to pride myself on not being a procastinator, but I’m coming to realise this is simply a massive case of self-delusion. Mine seems to be a rather deceptive, complex form of avoidance. I don’t procastinate by idly wasting time to avoid the task in question. Rather I find other things to do, things that are often productive or useful in themselves, so I can pretend that I’m not procastinating – the rationale being how can it be procastination when I also need to do the thing that I’m doing instead anyway? It’s like a game of swapsies – I trade the task I feel I should be doing for something else on my to do list that I judge to be preferable, even though I inevitably find that the thing I’m avoiding is never as bad as I imagine. Today I finally addressed a particulary excessive example of procastination, although I didn’t recognise it as such until this afternoon. Last autumn, I received a book to review. Ever since, I have been avoiding actually doing it. This is despite the fact I volunteered for it, wanted to read it and have found it a useful and enjoyable book to read. I just kept putting off writing down what I thought, finding other supposedly more important work tasks to do instead. Having decided today was the day I’d finally get on with it, I then found myself coming up with all sorts of little distractions – an email to answer, getting a drink. When I eventually found myself going to the loo again “just in case needing a wee would distract me once I start”, I knew enough was enough. I made myself start writing. I wrote, and wrote some more. I edited it. I felt pleased with it. I checked it again. I sent it off. Job done, an enjoyable and creative job at that. I don’t know why I didn’t do it six months ago.

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