Procrastination is an art 10



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I was going to write this piece a couple of months ago but, well, you know things keep getting in the way – things like looking out the window at nothing in particular, inspecting my toenails and getting mildly stressed about hair growing out of my ears.

You will be surprised at the number of people who think I am a procrastinator. One of these days I’ll tell them to their face just how wrong they are.

In fact, when it comes to doing something I like to take my time, give the matter serious thought and the fullest consideration, weigh the options, take appropriate advice, explore various possibilities, mull over possible strategic directions, think laterally and “outside the box” and, above all, not rush to judgement. This is not procrastination, it is being prudent.

Then again, I have to realise that when all is said and done, more is said than done. Perhaps I am somewhat of a procrastinator but I believe that that is a positive characteristic. I mean you have to agree that procrastination gives you something to look forward to and we should all have a good reason to get out of bed every morning.

Actually, I have perfected procrastination to a fine art. I’m so good at it now that I can even delay procrastination. I could not agree more with Mark Twain who once said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow”. I think that’s what he said – well fairly sure – but perhaps I should look it up later just to be really sure. I’ll think about it, okay?

My mother has always been on my case about my time management and time usage skills and she still is. In fact, she said that I wouldn’t amount to anything because I waste so much time. I quite rightly told her only recently to just wait because I am only 65. I’ve got lots and lots of time to do anything I like and if I like doing nothing then that is not procrastination, it is the result of a deliberate decision.

Then again, perhaps I have wasted a bit of time here and there over my life. I’ve done a calculation and have worked out that I would only be 37 if I deducted the amount of time spent doing nothing over my lifetime. I seem to remember that the formula that I used to make this calculation was the brainchild of some American academic who set to work devising it at the age of 28 and who pretty much had it all wrapped up when he was 72. You have to admire his single-minded dedication and serious application. Now what was his name? I’ve written myself a little note to look it up later.

I’m reading a book which I bought when it was published in August, 1964, called “Rush to Judgement” by an American lawyer, Mark Lane, which is a critique of the Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of President Kennedy in November, 1963. The Commission’s report was released in September, 1964, so Mr Lane obviously didn’t waste any time writing his book.

In fact, Mr Lane constructed a vast conspiracy theory about the assassination and has been criticised for, well, rushing to judgement. Critics have said that if he had indulged in a little more mature thought, his book would have been infinitely better. If I was him, I’d still be writing, checking facts and rewriting just to get it right.

I’ve read somewhere that procrastination can lead to – or, was it, caused by? – stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, low self-esteem, health problems, a serious loss of personal productivity and social disapproval.

Now, I don’t have any of these and never have which goes to prove that I am not a procrastinator. Once, I was monitored by some social scientist or whoever over a 9am to 5pm working day and the outstanding result was that I had put in 2.8 hours of solid, real work. As I wisely observed at the time to this person, fools rush in where angels fear to tread and all of that.

So that’s that. I was going to write 2,000 words on the subject but, heck, I can expand this later. I think I have a free day in early April next year. No promises, mind you.

By the way, I have told you my latest procrastinator joke?

I’ll tell you later.


Are you a procrastinator? What do you put off most often? What do you do to get motivated again? Share with us below!



Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. 1 REPLY
    • Too True. Way too true.
      This begs the question. Does anxiety and depression cause procrastination or does procrastination cause anxiety and depression.
      Reminds me of asking my doctor if my husband’s high blood pressure caused our fighting or if our fighting caused his high blood pressure. The learned man of letters replied, “How long is a piece of string.”

  2. I felt a huge sense of relief, reading this article about procrastination. It’s made me realize I’m not lazy (which I have occasionally wondered about myself), I’m a procrastinator! Thanks, Russell

    1 REPLY
    • Hi Fran – Well the fact that you replied immediately after reading my piece is total and absolute proof that you are not a procrastinator but a person who can take decisive and immediate decisions. Take heart!

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