I’ve already been putting this off for half an hour.
The time is always now, but so much can be put off indefinitely, that it becomes irresistable. We cede control of our time to immediate whim, and weirdly, I think it’s a way of establishing control. Pressures of time, deadlines and commitments, feel like a bind, tying us down. So we wriggle from side to side, loosening ourselves, giving ourselves a little more freedom.
When in fact, all we do is make our deadline, and our binding, tighter.
The only way to escape is to do it now. Whatever it is, you take more control by acting now than you do by prevaricating. The only way to be free is to be on the other side. Commitments end once they are done. The satisfaction of a job well done only comes when the job is done. You don’t magnify it by procrastinating. You just make it more stressful.
But that’s not how we’re wired, it seems. I don’t think I know anyone who tends to get things done straight away.
Of course, this could be reflective more of the type of people I associate with. Perhaps there’s a shining strata of people, infinitely better than me, hugely more successful and always immediately doing their most important priority, which has been carefully (but quickly) evaluated during the allocated planning slot (presumably in the shower, when nothing else more productive could’ve been done).
I would like to smugly argue that they probably haven’t actually got their priorities straight. Missing the fundamental fact that life is for living and not for planning and hurrying. But of course, my unplanned hurries are probably more ragged and less enjoyable than their steady stream of hurry.
It does make sense to do things now. Get them out of the way and enjoy life later. The wrong priorities are probably even more common amongst the procrastinators, who may well be avoiding the things they must do because they sincerely don’t want to. The world we live in, by which I mean our late-capitalist consumer society, spends a lot of time telling us what needs to be done, what is important, and what will make us happy.
But that doesn’t come from the outside. Our priorities shouldn’t be dictated by governments advice, tradition and advertising. We need to focus on that which comes from the inside, and project it outwards. Make our world our love. Make the thing we most want to be doing the most important thing. Prioritise our lives according to actual needs.
But that involves simultaneously stepping back into now, and stepping away from it.
Now is confusing. It’s too many drives and desires that have been pushed upon us. But now is our only sensation. The only time we can feel or change or make a difference. Later isn’t here yet, and the past is to far gone.
The only time to work yourself out is now.
I’ll help you in just a minute.
Illustration by Helen