Why I am 'pro procrastination' (try saying that 10 times quickly!) and how to make it work for you..
Updated: May 26, 2021
Well, for a start, if you do say "pro procrastination" quickly 10 times, you are indeed procrastinating, so well done; but I do feel I need to explain myself further if I am to win you over. The sort of procrastination that makes you miss deadlines, appointments or your child's Nativity Play is not something I would encourage, but sometimes a little bit of faffing is just what you need. No, really...hear me out...
Faffing about. "Faffing" is what we call procrastination in Lancashire and is a great word. Growing up, if I was accused of "Faffing about", it always had very negative connotations and was usually accompanied with a tut and disapproving look. "Faffing about" was possibly the worst thing that you could do in our house, second only to not taking your shoes off the minute you stepped through the door. "Faffing about" implies a decision has been made to avoid the job in hand at all costs and for as long as humanly possible. I am not an advocate for faffing about.
I would class sorting out my entire yarn stash when I had to sort out my Mum's new tax code, a prime example of Faffing About. Oh well, I never said I was perfect!
A bit of general "faffing" or "having a bit of a faff" however, is a completely different matter! You know the type of thing. You have a job to do that you are not looking forward to, so you tidy the Everything Drawer in the kitchen, find a pair of shoes to polish and dust behind the radiators. We've all done it, but why do we all feel guilty about it?
Here are 6 reasons why I think it can be a good thing...
Getting into the right frame of mind. We have all been in the situation where we are frustrated, annoyed or angry with someone, and yet we need to sort out a practical issue with them. We are also all now well trained into not firing back an immediate email in that situation (at least, I hope we are!) This is the perfect time for a faff! Equally, if we are upset or anxious or lacking self-belief, a faff is just what you need. Doing a completely unrelated activity, especially one that is pretty monotonous, is perfect in these situations, for getting us on a more even keel again and restoring a bit of perspective.
Scrubbing slates is a perfect mindless task that often needs doing so that Dave can paint his gorgeous maps on them.
People who engage in faffing are generally less stressed. (Again, these are not the Faff About-ers - they are in the realm of missing Nativity Plays and appointments) If you give your brain selected time off during the day, it will be much happier to work for you when you really need it. Yes, I know that's not very scientific! Pacing out the important or difficult jobs you need to do, means that you are more focussed during the time you do give them. This leads to...
You get more stuff done. I know it sounds silly and you may think I have completely lost my marbles on this one, but if you allow yourself bursts of faffing time, you can actually achieve a lot. Have a list of 10 minute jobs you can do such as fold the washing, empty the dishwasher, clear out your inbox or shred those papers. When your faffing has a purpose, you will have actually achieved something while still giving your brain the space it needs.
Collecting feedback or changing your mind. This one is a biggie in our house. Anyone who knows us will know that I am a Targeted Faffer, whereas Dave is a "You-mentioned-that-you-needed-something-doing-so-I-did-it-yesterday" kinda fella. Now don't get me wrong; it's lovely to have someone who is always willing to get the job done. The only problem is that I may have changed my mind on where I want the pond only to find it has already been dug in. I have learned over the last 29 years to be very careful about how I approach discussions about jobs needing doing around the house and garden. Having a bit of a faff before grabbing the spade means that I have time to weigh up all options, gather opinions from others and generally change my mind if needed.
Baking is a faffing activity that both Lou and I engage in regularly. This one never gets any negative comments from Dave!
Better time management. I know! I know! But you've stuck with me this far, so hear me out. I find that I know exactly how long I will actually need to do 'that' job. I can faff with other smaller jobs, let my brain work, let myself calm down or gee myself up and I still will have time to achieve what I need to at the end of the day. Now maybe that's because I am a professional faffer and you may need practice before attaining this, but seriously, you do value your time more. You are aware of how long you spend on things and as long as you have some self-control, than you are fine and dandy.
Being more creative. This is the most important one for me and the reason why I started to look at procrastination from another direction. I find that those times when I am folding knickers, sorting out my crochet hooks or pouring dog biscuits from a box into a tub (why!!??) are the times when I come up with my most creative ideas. I have planned a series of how-to videos, worked out a pattern problem and had inspiration for quirky Christmas makes all while faffing. You really can't beat it!
How to be a Targeted Faffer. I hope I have won you over. If you want to try to achieve Targeted Faffer Staus; here is what you need to do:
Make yourself a list of faffs. You can write them down, or just have them in your head. I have Useful Faffs, such as clearing my inbox, ordering a pressie on line; and Mindless Faffs, such as folding washing, watering plants, and cleaning out the fridge at work. Useful faffs still require a little focus, but if you have a real issue to get your head round, cleaning out the work fridge will sort it out!
Have a little notebook at the ready in case inspiration hits.
Give yourself a time limit. If you find yourself Faffing About, gently reign yourself back in, decide on a Targeted Faff and then stop when you have completed it.
Give yourself a break. Everyone has bad days. Faffing About is allowed now and again, but no-one notices when you have a good day! Try to get into the habit of looking back on your day at bedtime, and listing all the things you have achieved that day...and, yes, do include dusting behind the radiators!!