The Subtle Art Of Procrastination.

Jillian James, 5B

My Speech

I lay on my bed, thinking. I had almost got the point of my pencil to balance on my fingertips when Mum bashed on the door and yelled, “Jillian! How’s that speech going?”

When my heart returned to its normal position, from my throat, where it had leapt in fright, I yelled back, “Fine, Mum! Er… I’m, just thinking about it! I think I’ve got an idea coming!”

I jumped up and sat at my desk and surveyed my list of ideas. A blank page. Next night I sat at my desk again staring at the blank sheet. My seven pencils lay, freshly sharpened. At both ends. They were all now 10 cm long and lay silently begging to be the one to be picked up and made use of.

Mum burst in. “Now, then. How’s that speech going?”

Confession time. It couldn;t be avoided. “Mum, I just can’t come to grips with it. I can’t even think of a topic. Maybe after I have a shower…”

And that, boys and girls, is the reason I am here today, to tell you about the Subtle Art Of Procrastination.

The dictionary will inform you that procrastination is the act of putting off the things you must do until late. Poets through the ages have whined that procrastination is the thief of time. Parents and teachers constantly cry “procrastination” in accusing voices when you haven’t done what THEY decided you should do.

I beg to differ. From my personal experience over 11 years of sustanined observation and practice, I can assure you that procrastination is actually a fiendishly effective method of GAINING time for doing the things you REALLY want to do. In fact, procrastination is really another word for prioritisation, a trait highly rated by time and motion experts.

Let me illustrate my point.

I come from a long line of procrastinators. My parents waited until they were quite elderly-thirty-before they started a family. They were waiting for the right time. Then my brother wasn’t born until he was three weeks overdue – and the doctor forced him out. He was waiting for the right time.

At my house, procrastination is an art form. A family tradition. A way of life.

We call my big brother Gonna. He is in a constant state of gonna start things. He’s gonna start working seriously at school this year. When Mum asks how he expects to get a good report he says “Oh, Mum, have faith in me. I’m gonna study hard at exam time. I’ll be right.” His job is to put out the garbage. Every time, Mum has to tell him to do it and every time his answer is, “Oh yeah, I’m gonna do it after dinner, Mum! Give me a break!”

We call our little brother Wendy. a bit rude to name a little boy that, but it suits him. He’s pretty useless and gets in the way when we have to clean up. Mum and Dad say, ” Never mind, when he gets older he’ll be able to help, too. Just now he’s too little.”

And me? Am I a Gonna or a Wendy? No. They cal me Justa. I am the one who has refined procrastination-I mean prioritisation-to the art form it is at our house. I have hobbies and interest, needs and wants , which rarely match the demands adults impose on me, like mealtimes, bath, homework, bedtime. I’m always searching for time for the things i need. Like reading, playing, thinking.

Mum has a spooky knack of calling me to dinner when I’m in the middle of a chapter. “Jillian! Dinner!”

‘OK!’ I yell back. And keep reading.

Five minutes later, “Jillian! Your dinner’s getting cold!”

“Justa minute! I’m coming!” I reply. I can do it without losing my place.

Five minutes later she’ll barge in and say “Didn’t you hear me? Dinner’s ready!” and I’ll get up, saying, “I was just coming, Mum!”

You see? Ten valuable minutes gained and you have the chapter finished instead of choking over broccoli.

It’s a very useful technique for seeing the TV shows you like, too. Parents always seem to remember homework just as the show you’ve been waiting for is starting.

“Oh, Jillian! Have you got homework?”

Obviously Dad suspects I do, because Mrs Bright is a homework fanatic.

“Um, no. I don’t think so, Dad.” Eyes glued to the screen to show him there’s something IMPORTANT on. Five minutes gained.Now you know if it’s repeat or not, so you can calculate how much effort needs to be put in here.

Then he remembers. “Well, how can you be sure you don’t?”

“Um,well, I’ll check. Just a minute. I’ll look during the ads.”

Another five minutes gained.

“JILLIAN! Do you have homework or not?”

“Oh Dad, just a bit. Just a minute. I can do it straight after this show finishes.”

If you put your mind to it, you can gain a whole evening’s viewing and reading pleasure without wasting any more time than is absolutely necessary on dinner and homework. Then they’ll say, “It’s late! Go to bed!” and you can reply “But I have to do my maths!” and sure as eggs they’ll put their foot down and say, “No time for that! You should have thought of that before, so you must face the consequences! Shower and bed!”

A very quick shower and into bed for thinking time. Of course, they assume you’re sleeping.

Just imagine how the world could be, if people used this technique wisely. What if the man who ordered to drop the bomb over Hiroshima said, “Just a minute. I’ll do it after my coffee break.” The bomb would have dropped into the sea and killed a few fish, perhaps. But there would have been 200 000 grateful – and alive – people.

And what if Henry Vlll HAD SAID, “Anne,I’m gonna have your head chopped off tomorrow. I’m too busy today.” He might have forgottem his murderous intentions and ended up with only two wives. At least five grateful women there!

So next time your teachers or parents accuse you of wasting time, remember: to procrastinate is NOT to delay, tarry, loiter, kill time or dilly-dally. Oh, no. It is to make time, save time, prioritise, keep your shirt on, see which way the cat jumps, which way the wind blows, and, in the end, save unneccessary labour in the pursuit of the finest things in life.

And now, I must get round to writing that speech I’m meant to do. You know, the one about something of personal significant to me. I AM gonna write one, you know. Just as soon as I get home. And have a snack. And change. And read. Really. I’ll get on to it tonight. If I get a good idea. Maybe.

I just love this essay…the Subtle Art Of Procrastination. Cool shit! So lets procrastinate…*not too much though!* =)


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