Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Noble Art of Procrastination

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can safely leave until a week on Thursday."

That's what my deepest inner feelings claim, anyway. Mostly I try to overcome this desire and usually I succeed.

But then there's the tax.

I'm self-employed: I have five or six different employers and hence my tax form's very complicated. I compile all the information and then send it to the accountant who sends it off to the Inland Revenue.

Then they ask me for ten pints of blood and the clothes off my back, and I pay them, and they go away for a bit.

Of course, I hate the whole thing. There are two deadlines - September for Goody-Goodies and the end of January for Procrastinators. Guess which I am?

So this weekend, I'm doing my tax.

Of course, this makes every other job that I might do instead seem really interesting and very crucial.

So the first thing I did yesterday was to clean out the baby Giant African Land Snails. Regular readers will remember that these were a wedding present to Olli and Gareth almost a year ago. They are well-travelled snails and spend some time in York with their owners and some here with me.

They're not babies any more of course - I think they're teenagers, because they're still growing, and because they keep asking if they can go clubbing. Here they are, anyway, whilst I was cleaning them out, with bits of paper (which they eat) and lettuce (which they also eat) stuck to their shells.

The fork and teaspoon are just to give an idea of their size. I'm not planning to eat them - though, to be fair, they are most definitely edible and I'm keeping them in reserve in case the economy gets worse.

Anyway, then I started the tax, and put some washing on, and resisted the impulse to clean the whole cellar and then the oven, and did some more tax, and fed the birds.

I've always been like this with jobs I don't fancy doing, though because I am stuffed full of Work Ethic I always get them done.

When I was a teenager it was my homework: I can't watch Star Trek to this day without a feeling that I should be doing some Maths or Latin instead.

When I was fifteen and getting ready for my O-Level exams, I even wrote a poem about my tendency to procrastinate, which is now mercifully lost. (Though it won't really be lost. It'll be in this house somewhere, like everything else).

Here are the only fragments of this work of, er, near-genius that I can remember: I was sitting out on the lawn when I wrote it, supposed to be revising deeply dull Victorian political history:

I stare at the ground. I stare at the sky.
I count all the cars as I hear them pass by.

and, the final couplet

I look for the tortoise, who's wandered away:
I'll finish my homework. But just not today.

Many years ago. But I haven't really changed. Oh, okay, perhaps I look a little bit older. But I feel the same.

I'm going back to the tax now. But I had to get this done first, obviously. This blog doesn't write itself, you know.


Blogger Jennytc said...

Tax avoidance strategy - I know it well!

12:23 pm  
Blogger Jennytc said...

Freudian slip there! Task avoidance, I mean - course I do!

12:24 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

It reminds me of my attitude to marking piles of students' work. It's so mind-numbingly boring and doesn't enrich me in the least so I will put it off and put it off to the last possible minute. And there's always this tug of war going on in my head between the angel and the devil with me trapped somewhere in the middle.

1:52 pm  
Blogger Malcolm Cinnamond said...

Good news! I'm self-employed and don't have to fill in a tax form (apparently). Bad news. That's because I haven't earned enough. You should try the many and varied livestock forms we have to fill in just to move pigs from point A to point B.

I like the timeshare snails very much. Do they have suitcases or do you have two sets of stuff, one at each home?

5:12 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Yes, Jenny - I knew what you meant!!
YP - - oh yes, I remember looking at those piles of exercise books with a wave of apathy flooding over me, from my teaching days, too. I always DID mark them - - but oh, the tediousness of it sometimes.
Malc - I hope next year you have to fill in the tax form because your wealth will have increased so much. The timeshare snails have two complete sets of lettuce. Only the best for our creatures, as with yours.

8:40 pm  
Blogger Debby said...

I think perhaps we're cut from the same cloth!

12:46 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

The only way I ever was able to do very important task A was to be told that a new task, let us call it B, was even more important and that I must set aside A immediately. I simply cannot do B until A is completed.

This is the same approach my wife takes when overnight guests are expected. She simply cannot sweep or dust or put out clean linens or tidy up the bathroom until the insides of the kitchen cabinets are completely reorganized.

Strangely, these other tasks often fall to me....

1:07 am  

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