The splendid (and mightily useful) art of procrastination

I don’t quite know how it has happened, but somehow I am surrounded by post festival debris with a to-do list as long as my arm (and then some). I have a homemade card to complete, a half-finished portrait of Mary Berry to embroider, 9 boaters to decorate for a small troupe of morris men, oh and a marathon to train for in less than 2 weeks.

The view through the tent in my lounge to the airer wedged in the door

The view through the tent in my lounge to the airer wedged in the door

As I clamber into my bathroom, over mud strewn ground sheets and crumpled wet tent portions, I wonder if my flat will ever again be habitable, let alone open to guests this weekend. Sitting on the throne (we all know toilet time is meditation time when schedules are tight) I go over the items in my mind to try and place them in some sort of priority order, realising that I haven’t checked my emails for a week.
I decide to start by checking my emails and opening my post. The post brings in a nice tax rebate (hooray!) and I am so elated by the prospect of cashing in this cheque that I accidentally loose several hours trawling the internet, doing a bit of web activism and staying in the facebook loop. As an unfortunate result I now have to add more items to my list. These include ‘pay in cheque’ and ‘throw bucket of icy water over my head whilst filming it’. Great progress. Perhaps I could combine it with cleaning the bathroom…? Even better, I could go for a training run to the bank to pay in my cheque, get back to the flat and tip a bucket over myself to save time on showering, then donate the money I’ve just acquired to charity. This is the way that you have to think when you have so much stuff to do.
But then dinnertime appears to have arrived and all this planning has left me very hungry. Unfortunately, having just got back from the festival I have no food. Better go to the shops. Ohh maybe I could run to the bank to pay in the cheque, come back via the shops so that I have some food in my fridge, tip a bucket of water over my head whilst filming, give my money to charity and then eat dinner. Yes. Except that there’s a muddy tent in pieces lying all over my bathroom and the shower is therefore strictly out of bounds until that part is done. Mary Berry stares up at me from the floor, her half embroidered face looking pretty sinister with its dangling threads and black eyes.

Sinister unfinished Mary

Sinister unfinished Mary

Man I’m hungry. I recall that there are some crackers in the cupboard, a can of baked beans and one green pepper. That’s something to go on. Perhaps if I just start there… I start to look for recipes online but get sidetracked into desserts and start to devise a shopping list for later. Damn you Mary: this is your fault with your confectionary influence. But it’s not time wasting, I tell myself. Sooner or later I will have to go shopping. A list will save time and money in the long run. We all know you should never go shopping when hungry. I add the list to my desk that has turned yellow and white with scrap paper notes and then hop across the floor dodging the incomplete art projects and laundry hanging contraptions.
After my dinner of beans on crackers with a green pepper side, I feel positively nourished and can begin the next phase of the list- except that, whilst eating my dinner with one hand, I’ve simultaneously been adding items with the other. Now on the list are the added delights of ‘uniform’ and ‘packing up for tomorrow’. I’m on the early shift which means I won’t have time in the morning to do anything, but it does mean I’ll be able to go for a run after work, I think consolingly. Ah yes, work. That major time suck that you have to do in order to do your shopping and pay your taxes so that you can get them all back again later in cheque form. A perfect system. There is of course, I think sadly, that other matter of ‘being a writer illustrator’ which is the whole reason for only working a 30 hour week. A critical exchange plays in my head between myself and myself:
‘How’s that other career getting on then?’
‘Oh you know… on the back burner this week really. Had a bit too much to do.’
‘So you’ll be back on track next week then will you?’
‘Oh almost certainly, yes. Well. So long as I can get my training in too of course. What with the marathon just around the corner and 9 morris men costumes to complete. Thinking about it, I’ll just make a list to ensure I use my time effectively’.
Something my sister once told me is very useful in times like these. She said that as long as you are doing things, you are not wasting time. She said it was perfectly ok to add items to the list purely to tick off since you had already done them. Yes, the list wasn’t getting any shorter but you were getting things done. For this reason, I am now going to add the following onto my list and then cross it off with nice thick black pen: ‘write article about time management and procrastination’. Done. Now to reward myself with a cup of tea and a… (shit, I’m out of biscuits. Shopping now moves to the top of the list).

Mary Berry is complete

Mary Berry is complete


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