Friday, August 10, 2012

Loving procrastination and BTB one year on

Last week marked the first anniversary of my weekly column Behind the Barr. And who would have thought (least of all me), that I would still be writing it a year later. I love that moment each week when I hit “send” on my computer keyboard and the column vanishes into cyberspace and turns up in the office of The Bridge. The pressure to put together five or six hundred words is over for another week… or at least until I start worrying about what to write for the following week.

Friends have asked me how I come up with a column each week and I think Bill Watterson, the American cartoonist and author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes summed it up nicely with his quote:

“You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.”

“What mood is that?”

“Last-minute panic.”

While doing some detailed research into learning about being a newspaper columnist, I discovered that professional columnists usually have one or two emergency columns written and put aside for moments when an unforeseen calamity or illness strike, making reaching your deadline impossible.

It’s great advice and I have embraced the theory… it’s just that every time I get an extra column written my brain goes inexplicably blank the following week until finally I smile and think, “Gee, lucky I have that emergency column that I wrote last week.”

Many times I find there just aren’t enough hours in my day… mainly because I allow myself to dedicate large tracts of time to the often-maligned art of “doing other things” usually referred to as procrastination.

In today’s time management obsessed society, efficient and productive uses of one’s time is praised, while procrastination is viewed in a very dim light indeed. Being an advocate of procrastination, I prefer to view it in a much brighter light.

I find procrastination immensely satisfying. It enables me to complete numerous boring tasks (such as housework) that I would otherwise ignore. Has anyone else noticed how tantalizing vacuuming your house becomes when faced with the prospect of doing last month’s bookwork? The bookwork of course still gets done but not until I’ve completed a multitude of minor jobs first. Personally I see it as a win/win situation.

When put to good use, procrastination can expand your life in ways you never dreamed of. It allows you to head off on other tangents and discover opportunities and adventures you may never have thought of, had you stuck rigidly to the task at hand.

Procrastination can do wonders for enhancing your life/work balance, as any high school student knows. Why spend three weeks slaving over an important assignment when it can all be done the night before it’s due?

Actually, there can sometimes be a significant reduction in the quality of the work produced when done the night before, depending on what type of assignment it is. Not to mention the raising of tension between the parent and teenager… so perhaps not a great example for you all, please forget I mentioned it.

Teenagers aside, procrastination with a deadline looming ramps up the pressure and enables you to be sometimes dazzled with your own flashes of brilliance and productivity output over a short space of time… other times you should just abandon all hope and finish sorting out your sock drawer…


  1. Oh I so agree! For me it's the undies drawer though!!!

  2. Yes Justy, I think it's all a form of active meditation :)