The Thief Of Time

The Thief Of Time

I’ve been putting off writing this post. No, seriously, I must have fired up the WordPress editor ten times now and each time I’ve found some distraction to take me away from writing.

Procrastination. Deferring tasks until the last minute and then rushing to complete them by the deadline.

It’s not that I sit there idle, wasting the minutes and hours while I could be working productively. I rarely have any difficulty finding activities to satisfy my need for interesting stimulation.

It’s rather that I need a certain level of stimulation to engage with a task. To feel motivated enough to start it. Dishes pile up in the kitchen sick because although it only takes about five minutes to wash them (I’ve timed it–doesn’t everyone?), and I don’t find the task onerous, I fail to summon enough interest in the activity until it’s nearly bed time and I feel a sense of urgency.

As a child homework presented the same obstacles, except for the few instances such as essay writing that I felt enthused about. To be honest, most homework is a mind-numbingly tedious repetition of what was already learned in that day’s lesson. I used to complete most assignments in the break time before class.

The same afflicts me at work to this day. I’ve been known to spend hours or days coding on personal (although still work-related) projects at the expense of what I’m due to deliver. That work gets put off until I feel that the time remaining fits my gut feeling of the effort required. Having said that, I have a good track record of delivering on time.

That last point is important. I’m fulfilling my obligations. In many ways I view my procrastination as a positive thing. The focus that is instilled in me by the pressure of the impending deadline concentrates my mind wonderfully.

Where otherwise I might tentatively poke around, mind not completely on what I’m doing and consequently making bad choices and failing to consider problems in sufficient depth, instead it’s like a finely-tuned engine running at its peak. It becomes easy to sink into the comfortable mental flow where it all just happens without the sensation of effort.

There’s a fine line between the energizing pull of a looming deadline, fueling the fires of creative endeavor, and a crippling anxiety triggered by fear of failing in my task. I’ve become adept–at least in the absence of external factors that strew tacks in my path–of maintaining my balance on that razor’s edge.

It’s exhilarating, such a sense of capability, of almost unbounded potential. It feels as if I can achieve anything I set my mind to. The sheer pleasure! It’s an addicting experience but one that appears to cause no harm.

They call procrastination the “thief of time” but I disagree. For me it’s a form of time management that maximizes my overall productivity, the key to unlocking my highest abilities. Far from stealing time from me it gives me the ability to use my time to its fullest potential.

2 thoughts on “The Thief Of Time

  1. This reminds me of times when I have to clear some smaller open issues before I can concentrate on a piece of work. For me, it’s a mix of reducing distraction or stress, and maybe preparing unconsciously for the work to come. I’m impressed by your confidence in the face of deadlines!

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    1. Preparation is important for me: I have to construct a mental model of what I’m working on, see it in detail in my mind’s eye, before I can begin. And then, when I see the whole of the solution I can start building it, putting the pieces together.

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