Procrastination is the thief of time, the old adage goes. And modern pyschologists have linked chronic procrastination to all manner of conditions, including OCD and depression (both as a symptom and as a self-perpetuating cause).
Yet at the same time many of the greatest thinkers were rather leisurely chaps. Just think of Descartes ruminating in front of the fire, or Epicurus sitting in his garden enjoying whatever chanced his way. Sure, Proust left many bulging volumes behind, but can you really call a man hardworking when he spends all day in bed?
These were my thoughts when I arrived home around 6 o’clock last Thursday. 6, one would assume, is a reasonable time to arrive home, but not if your last lesson finished at 1. Aside from a few emails and other bits and bobs at university, where had all my time gone?
And then I realised that I had spent it in wonderful, oblivious procrastination. Contrary to what analysts everywhere would lead you to believe, my afternoon of productive time wasting had left me feeling chipper and refreshed (as long as I ignored the mountains of shorthand and other homework which loomed menacingly over me).
With this in mind, I decided to compile a list of the top 5 old fashioned (no internet) ways of wasting time. These are simple pleasures of which modern life has so cruelly denied us, and I wish to claim them back, at keast for an instant. Here goes:
1. Walking. Now I don’t mean pulling on a pair of thick wooly socks and thigh high galoshes. the car, the bus and the train have all denied us the wonder of walking to and from our destination every day. Walking, one assumes, is fraught with perils; cold, dark, mauggers, rogue foxes. But look again and one can often see a sunnier side to any journey. If you live in the country, you can stop to admire nature, or collect blackberries for a homemade pie. Somewhere more urban, you can just stop to examine the latest graffiti or acts of mindless student pranksterism. On my walk to university one day this week I saw two amazing sights, one a pied-wagtail, foraging for seeds, it’s tiny tail bobbing up and down; the other a shopping trolley, artfully hung, beyond all expectations, over a street light. “How, when, why did it get there?” I cried, startling several passers-by.
2.Bathing. Nowadays, the washing method of choice is of course the shower. Who has time for the humble bath; old fashioned, perhaps lukewarm, it may take an age to run. But for the consummate procrastinator, bathing is an artform. You will need at least one book, a radio, perhaps a newspaper, a drink and some non-crumbly snacks. Pre-wash soak time should be at least an hour, quality time in which to digest new information, relax, and for the risk takers among us, sleep. And all behind locked doors, with no-one to disturb the calm of your inner sanctum.
3. Shopping. Now this may come as a surprise, but to an expert, shopping can be a wonderful way to waste time. I don’t mean the weekly grocery shop, although this in itself has many possibilities, but something more akin to window shopping. You may buy one or two items, but hours of fun can be had simply mooching around stores. With bookshops taking a more relaxed approach to browsers these days, providing comfy sofas and even coffee shops, a judicious procrastinator can read a book a week for free (or two Graphic Novels). I myself once spent a very enjoyable afternoon with a friend “trying out beds for our new flat” (NB: it was all very clean and above board, just very, very comfy).
4. Snoozing. Akin to bathing, snoozing is a dedicated art. Recent study shows that using “snooze” buttons on alarms, Britons waste an average of 20 minutes a day extra in bed, with lie-ins getting longer as the working week progresses. But to the consummate procrastinator, this is nothing. In fact, with a little groundwork- such as a shower and shave before bed- and a “just until the next alarm” attitude, a good snoozer can spend three quartersof an hour in bed. And that’s just on weekdays!
5. A good paper. Like bathing and walking, this is an activity that has only recently been relegated to time-wasting status. With the ever increasing dominance of the internet, and internet news, the old-fashioned newspaper is becoming more and more redundant. However, who could resist the crisp feel of a freshly minted broadsheet with their morning tea and marmalade? Or sitting on the bus catching up on all the latest news. Ploughing through supplement after supplement on a lazy Sunday, anyone? And best of all, this cheap and informative pleasure can be combined with every item on the list (well except walking, unless you’re a truly dedicated procrastinator.)
So, there was my top 5 methods of old-fashioned procrastination. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and now leave feeling like a tiny little bit of your time has been wasted. I certainly know the last half hour of mine has been.