The art of procrastination

Have taken my levels of procrastination to a whole new level by drawing and (badly) colouring in a map of the fictional towns, complete with important buildings, that I’m writing about.

May need someone to save me from myself. Tell me I’m not the only one?

A change is as good as a rest

It’s a nice saying, and it has some merit, but as someone who worked two jobs for a good chunk of time, I can safely say the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Everyone needs some down time and maybe a few of the good distractions I was on about earlier in the week thrown in for good measure. No relaxation time at all and you definitely start getting strange (right Dave?).

drawing of an old manBut sometimes it isn’t so easy to let yourself rest and that’s when a secondary goal comes in handy. The last few months haven’t been the best for writing, mainly as I’m too fractious about the whole flat thing, so I’ve been drawing a little instead. It’s good because I feel like I’m keeping some kind of creative hand in, but I don’t feel the same need to be good – or even constantly improving.

This is a pic I did the other week – which Ink kindly put a little colour in for me – and I could feel myself relaxing loads the whole time I was drawing it so i think it probably doesn’t count as procrastination, right? Right?

The fine line between good and bad deadline distractions

We all know what it’s like to have a pressing deadline, the kind of deadline you really don’t want to miss, and yet instead of knuckling down and getting it done, you find yourself watching a compilation show of Eastenders’ most depressing moments. Procrastination has been the subject of countless books, essays, blogs and laments, but today I want to argue in its defence: distractions aren’t always a bad thing.

When I was wee, I was one of those really annoying kids who goes home and does their homework as soon as they get in. I think it had more to do with my love of stationary and straight lines than it did any real desire to learn, but the point is I was technically doing exactly what I was supposed to – except I’m not sure it really did me any favours.

By rushing home and knuckling down, my head still full of school and my tummy rumbling for the all important post-lessons snack, I wasn’t working under the best conditions. If I’d spent a little more time kicking back with the Samurai Pizza Cats I bet I would have paid more attention to my geography book when the time came around (and then I might be able to read a freaking map today!).

I reckon the same is true today. When the ‘all work no play’ head goes on, the work may happen, but I can’t help wondering about its quality. Last week, I struggled to get a single thing done. Cut to a weekend drinking mulled wine and playing the XBox, and suddenly the boy Ink is dying to get home and draw and my head is bursting with ideas.

Why? Because we let go of the projects we were wrestling with long enough to get a little perspective. And, as we chatted and defeated pixelated monsters, we were using different parts of our brains – giving the creative, problem solving areas the change to stretch and get comfortable again. The same is true whether your preferred vice is reading, watching TV or shooting the breeze with your friends.

It’s a dangerous game of course, because if you’ve got a deadline going – especially if it isn’t a self imposed one – a week lost to a new box set or computer adventure could be disastrous. But on the other hand, can you really afford not to waste a little time on your favourite pastime? Don’t let your ideas stagnate, shake them up with a little healthy distraction.