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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice