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  • Cate

Top Ten Ways to Procrastinate (and why it isn't all bad)

I'm a great believer in the odd bout of procrastination.

the empty page: symbol of writer's procrastination everywhere

I do, in fact, believe it is the brain's way of telling you that you need to leave it to get on with stewing over something while you do something else, and I often find that after a bit of good old fashioned procrastination, things become clearer, and I can approach the task at hand with renewed vigour.


Of course, if I let it go on too long, I can lose the thread of what I was trying to do or say, so it can become a bit of a balancing act to find the right combination of letting myself get distracted by shiny things or falling into the pit of creative despair.

Try it. See if it works for you. It all comes down to management (so long as you are not like my Other Half, who will sometimes tell me that he hasn't got around to procrastinating, yet, usually when we are both contemplating dinner, bearing in mind that he is the chef and I am the eater.)

As such, I've been giving some thought as to my preferences for constructive procrastination, and I came up with a list (in no particular order). My ten favourite ways to procrastinate (which may or may not be about writing!) as they occurred to me just now:

Reading (no worries: this is research isn’t it?)

Research (also research)

Going for a walk (all about keeping fit, walking meditation,

thinking through character development or plot directions, all good)

Make Art (just a different way of exercising creativity, yes?)

Make a cuppa (essential for survival)

Food (almost as essential as a cuppa)

Tidy the desk (well, it has to be under there somewhere, don’t you think?)

ps I tried to find a picture of a messy desk to post, but short of taking a pic of my own and uploading it,

it looked like I was out of luck

Take a bath (soaking meditation, thinking through character development or plot directions, all good [+ you come out smelling nice afterwards])

Social media (keeping up with the latest and puttin’ yourself out there, all necessary)

Staring out the window (Agatha Christie said this counted as writing, and that is cool with me)

On the other hand, I have a least favourite way to procrastinate, as well, and that would be ...perhaps not unique to me... housework (I’m of the house of ‘Oh, good, a book, I almost did some housework!’), except I don’t seem to mind hanging out/bringing in the laundry for some reason, just don’t ask me to iron anything!

Not because housework isn't an effective something else, more that it's not a something else that I enjoy (although i do enjoy the sense of achievement that a lovely clean house brings, not to mention the, er, lovely cleanness of the house):

Also, for those who are wondering where Netflix, etc., is hiding on the list above, we have rubbish connectivity here so watching TV went out the window long ago. I did, however, make an exception and binge watch Good Omens on Amazon Prime the second it came out, and would probably do the same with Dr Who if we could get enough of a signal through iView to watch it in a nice flowing manner rather than as a stop start event.

I do have a reasonable DVD collection (including all the Dr Whos) and have been know to indulge in a half decent Rom Com when I need a bit of emotional TLC, but not often enough to include it in my top ten (I cannot say, nor will I admit to how many times I've watched Bend It Like Beckham, Wimbledon, Love Actually (sigh), or Notting Hill).

All in all, I find I can get guilty and not enjoy it, but still do it, and come out the other side of my procrastination feeling cranky with myself and too bitter to actually get over it, or I can let myself indulge for a few minutes and come back on the right side of mental energy and get back on the into the story.

How about you?

Do you make procrastination work for you, or let it get the better of you?

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