Time Well Spent

The im­por­tance of time man­age­ment in our in­creas­ingly con­nected world is con­stantly em­pha­sised, but is there some­thing to be said for step­ping back and al­low­ing some time to pass be­fore you take ac­tion?

Plaza Watch International - - Next Issue - WO R D S JOSH SIMS

Seems in­ter­est­ing, right? Maybe even ed­u­ca­tional? You’re not do­ing much. You could read it right now. Or, you could fold down the cor­ner of the page and, sat­is­fied that you have made some small con­tri­bu­tion to get­ting the job done, say to your­self “I will come back and read this later”. And yet you prob­a­bly never will.

Ham­let had pro­cras­ti­na­tion down: “Now I could drink hot blood / And do such bit­ter business as the day / Would quake to look on,” he ex­claims, ready to take mur­der­ous re­venge right there and then. Does he? No. “Soft, now to my mother” – it’s a nice chat with mum first. Cer­tainly, so­ci­ety at large is trou­bled by the no­tion of what it per­ceives as un­nec­es­sary de­lay – barely con­vinced by the pos­si­bil­ity that de­lay may in fact be a sign of diplo­macy, tact, strat­egy or care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion.

The phi­los­o­phy of man­age­ment gu­rus of the 1970s –“first things first, sec­ond things not at all,” as Peter Drucker had it – shaped the ever-in­ten­si­fy­ing, tech­nol­ogy-fu­elled western mantra that time is pro­duc­tiv­ity, speed is ef­fi­ciency and dead­lines sacro­sanct. Wil­ful de­lay is widely re­garded neg­a­tively. “No idle­ness, no lazi­ness, no pro­cras­ti­na­tion: never put off till to­mor-

Look at this ar­ti­cle.

row what you can do to­day,” as the Earl of Ch­ester­field put it, a man, iron­i­cally, who had a sofa named after him.

Psy­chol­o­gists like to think of it as ir­ra­tional, since it might act against one’s own best in­ter­ests; or as a means of avoid­ing the judg­ment by oth­ers of one’s ac­com­plish­ment; or as some man­i­fes­ta­tion of the fear of death.

De­spite this, almost to spite so­ci­etal ex­pec­ta­tion, the num­ber of peo­ple claim­ing that they pro­cras­ti­nate “of­ten” has in­creased six-fold over the last quar­ter cen­tury. This is ac­cord­ing to a study cited in a self-help book, one of many now, that are de­signed to show you ‘How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Get­ting Things Done’, as the ti­tle has it. Some 20 per cent of peo­ple are now iden­ti­fied as ‘chronic’ pro­cras­ti­na­tors. The fig­ures sug­gest that pro­cras­ti­na­tion is a dis­tinctly mod­ern mal­ady, or a be­hav­iour that more and more peo­ple are com­fort­able with.

But might pro­cras­ti­na­tion sim­ply be an in­di­ca­tion that we fill our lives with so much, and that so much of it doesn’t ac­tu­ally have to be done? Might it not sug­gest that what we are ac­tu­ally do­ing is just more im­por­tant than what we have cho­sen to de­lay do­ing – since by do­ing one thing we are, by def­i­ni­tion,

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