Rushed off my feet, shirking nine to five

Sophie Heawood can scarcely find the time to procrastinate

Share
Related Topics

Don't talk to me about time-wasting.

Or rather, do, but understand that it may take me some time to decide if what we're discussing actually is time-wasting, or whether it should be more accurately termed as procrastination, or perhaps one of half a dozen other names for that thing you do when you're not quite doing the thing that you're meant to be doing. I'm just not sure. I mean, my levels of procrastination are so advanced that I once took a herbal remedy to counteract it. Well, I was going to.

While pottering around a large health-food store, in one of those vague sunshiney sort of moods where you should have got the bus home quite some time ago but you're lingering in town, hoping for your soul to be redeemed by standing near some powdered kelp, I came upon a tiny bottle of Bach's flower remedy. It promised that a few drops on the tongue, or diluted in a glass of water, would bring your prioritising ability into sharp relief. So for eight quid, I bought it.

Once home, I unscrewed it, opened my mouth wide, and held the dropper expectantly over my tongue. And then I thought – hey! – you know what? – maybe that whole mixing it with water thing would be a better idea! Maybe undiluted is going to be a bit much. Maybe it tastes awful. Maybe I should think this through properly at some unspecified later date when I know what to do about this sort of thing! Eight years later, the bottle sits untouched on a shelf still.

And so it is with grim satisfaction that I read last week's research, by a management consultancy firm, suggesting that junior council staff spend 68 per cent of their working time doing nothing remotely productive, and that managers are "uncomfortable confronting the poor performance of staff."

Time-wasting accounts for two-thirds of the working day for these hapless folk who aren't forced to spend their time more usefully, and so don't. Of course, this is just a survey, to be taken with a pinch of salt – we have all met council staff who are overworked, underpaid, surrounded by despair and yet heroically grafting through it.

And yet, so many of us are also too familiar with that sensation of wasting our days away. You know, the creeping thought that, instead of sorting out that spreadsheet or writing those notes for the meeting, maybe you should just check out that website with videos of abandoned dogs who need adopting, or the property site for rundown farms in northern Portugal that cost less than a bedsit in Croydon. Or endlessly refreshing an ex-boyfriend's Facebook page, to try to understand why somebody who once loved us with a blind poetic rage has now married a blonde who lists her interests as "goin out *music *drinks *stuff".

Well, according to the consultancy, planning and management are the solution to this. Planning your time better, and planning your staff's time better, is the only way through the temptation to slack. Is that really the answer? Or just another way of stacking yourself into the future without soaking up the present?

When John Lennon said that life was what happens when you're making other plans, he didn't mean that you should plan harder; he meant you should take a look around at what's actually going on. Because endless planning is the worst procrastination of all, when life carries on apace, under your ink-smudged fingers, or your glowing screen. It isn't something to plan through, or turn the other way through. It's right here, right now. Do with it what you can.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory