Why the rush to put things off? Can’t it wait…?
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity“.
Henry David Thoreau, “Economy,” Walden, 1854
I’ve had this quote sitting on my desktop for nearly two weeks now – which is rather apt because when I first saw it I thought it might be perfect for a blog post about procrastination…
I’m sure I’m not unique in this respect, but the problem for me is that so much of my life is impacted by the demands of other people (dependent family members, friends and employers) who have a right to make calls on my time.
The thing that I find most challenging is that my working environment (a local parish church) is, theoretically, office hours for four days during the normal working week and then 7 or 8 hours on a Sunday divided into a morning and evening shift pattern with the occasional mid-week evening thrown in.
In practice though the evenings are not occasional – in fact, in addition to Sunday, I’m out at something work related at least once (but more commonly two or three times) a week. Needless to say, my work pattern is all over the place!
This means that when I’m NOT at work I have to be on my guard against a subtle form of stubborn rebellion that, in the odd moment where I do get the chance to set my own priorities and do my own thing, tempts me to defer tasks that require require a bit more thought or effort than usual as if, somehow I’ve earned the right to take it a bit easy.
If you’re reading this and thinking – that sounds perfectly normal and reasonable to me then beware – you’re on the slippery slope already.
Why? Because it is perfectly normal and reasonable… however the challenge is not to let it become a habit because if you let this mindset take deep root you’re in big trouble!
My approach to avoiding this, which I confess is only partially successful, is to track the hours I work very closely; keeping a daily running total.
That way, even though my work pattern is uneven, I still have a view of how many ‘extra’ hours I’m accumulating over time. That way I can make a conscious decision whether to ‘give’ that extra time to my employer or ‘take’ some of it back for my own things.
So that’s what I’m doing right now; taking back a little of the extra work time I’ve accumulated so as not to put off writing this blog post any longer…
It’s the end of a ‘normal’ working day; the church office closed 40 minutes ago; everyone else has gone home; my lift doesn’t arrive for another half hour and I know that in three hours time I’ll be back here for an evening church council meeting.
So that’s my coping strategy – how do you avoid putting things off?