I have a set of small occasional tables I inherited from a grandparent that sometimes get pressed into service when we have guests to avoid the problem of tea cups being placed on the carpet and inevitably being spread all over it, probably by me. The largest of the tables however often threatens to spill the drinks without help from a human agent, as it has a pair of wonky legs that cause some consternation to said guests that maybe it is not entirely trustworthy enough to risk it supporting the Earl Grey.
For as long as I can remember this table has been on the wonky side. Maybe at heart I think of it as being characterful. The reality is that any time I set my mind to it those wonky legs could be quickly fixed via a short trip to Wilkinsons, procuring some wood glue and sticking the damn things permanently in the correct upright position. Even I, whose DIY skills are pathetic in the extreme, could probably manage to do that and not screw it up. However, I just never seem to get around to it. Every time I see the precarious angle of the legs I think to myself ‘I must get round to fixing that’ but for some reason it never happens.
I am sure I am not the only person who has a list of little jobs that actually would not take very long to do or are particularly hard but still never seem to get done. It fits perfectly with recent things I have read on procrastination and the ability we all have to put off things again and again in favour of doing something else instead that gives more of an instant gratification hit. We can keep putting it off too, especially if there is an element of the job that is onerous or we are not sure exactly how to go about it. Apparently the reason anything gets done in the end is because where there is a deadline there is a hard stop to the procrastination and basically we panic and finally do what we have to and should have done weeks ago. If there is no deadline, no urgency to fix the problem, then probably the chance the job will ever get done is pretty low unless a deadline is later imposed somehow. Yes, we can set our own deadlines on these open ended jobs but only the most disciplined among us will ever keep to a self-imposed deadline without some external additional pressure. I do not think I would get around to writing even these short blog posts most every week where it not that I set the date of the post as every Tuesday and the knowledge that a few people at least are actually looking to see if there is a post; in the busyness of everything writing six hundred words or so is easy to push aside for something which at the time seems more fun and/or more important.
It can be a problem; apparently it can lead to depression as, without those external pressures, some people continue to procrastinate as a rule and subsequently feel they are achieving nothing. As a natural encourager I think that is important for me to recognise as a potential issue and that sometimes encouragement is not just about telling someone they are doing well, or encouraging them to make that job application but adding a bit of steel in there as well – by setting them a deadline for that next step and holding them too it.
After writing this I was informed by the Lovely Wife that in fact we have some wood adhesive in the under stairs cupboard. My efforts to procrastinate further over the wonky leg has taken another blow, it seems. Just as well I have a work business trip to excuse fixing it for a least a little bit longer.