A friend sent me an article the other day about the thief of our productive lives: procrastination. This was timed to utter perfection. How did she know that I was fannying about in terms of my Spartan training and diet? One possible answer is that she has been reading my blog and observed that I had been writing about anything but. Or because she saw me last Saturday afternoon, quaffing delicious, freshly made pakora, accompanied by a small beer. There have been many sins, and it could be any one of them. However, the actual reason was that it could provide interesting blog post fodder, so here it is.
Do you like to procrastinate? Of course you do. There must be people who relish the advance organisation of tasks. In fact I am one of them. I love a list and the research of all the activities that need to go into the task. The problem comes with the execution. There’s nothing like a having a good plan to get you feeling smug, then exhausted with the sheer effort of planning, so that you need to step away from the task and go and noodle about on the internet for the rest of the day as a reward for your excellent planning. In my experience, plans always start the next day. Sometimes even the next week. I think most people will be familiar with this scenario:
The premise of the article was based on a study by two psychologists, which argued that most people act in the same way because of instant gratification. We see ourselves as ‘present me’ and ‘future me’. We act on our present self’s urges and desires, rather than thinking about the future. New shoes versus savings, cake versus summer swimsuit phobia. Sofa versus Spartan training. Insert your vice of choice. In addition, some of us (me) have a tendency to reward ourselves once we have gone a little way towards our goals, behaviour which more often than not, can bring us right back to where we started. One step forward, two steps back, as so neatly demonstrated in this cartoon by The Oatmeal:
The psychologists in the study questioned whether people would be less likely to avoid unpleasant tasks such as assignments, saving and diets, if they felt more connected to their future selves. The simple way that they did this was to ask people to count the future in days instead of months or years, making it seem more real. Or more frightening. They found, for example, participants who imagined the first day of their children in college in days, were four times more likely to start saving than those who calculated it in years. Obvious huh? It’s not rocket science. At the same time, I have been content to ignore some of my plans by saying, ‘oh I’ve got three months to go’.
I’ve continued this, true to my typical form. Procrastinating me would say I’ve got two months to go until the race. Reality me is now doing the maths and saying I have 58 days. Somehow that seems A LOT shorter and a lot scarier. About two months ago, I said that I wanted to lose some weight so that I would find it easier to pull myself up on ropes etc. I said that I would be doing a serious workout at least four times a week. Instead I have put on about half a stone, managed two workouts a week, my 30 burpees a day and absolutely no running for at least a month. That’s NO running, in preparation for a 13 km race. Oops.
My other suggestion was that I would likely hammer it in the last two months before the run. With 58 days to go, I have clearly passed that stage without a hammer in sight. I must also confess that I’ve only done burpees twice this week. Even worse, they were the half-arsed ones without the press-up. In my mind, I rationalised that even 30 crap burpees are better than none, but they won’t count when I’ve got some sadistic race volunteer standing over me in a toga, shouting at me to get my 30 done. NB, I don’t actually know if they wear togas, but I’d like to think so. Oh arse, Romans wore togas, Greeks wore… answers on a postcard. Fringed skirts and chest armour? Anyway, some kind of fancy dress should be obligatory. Once I am queen, I shall make it so.
The good/bad news is, that the change in weather and the realisation that last summer’s trousers are a smidgeon too tight on the waistband has led me back to low carb land this week (apart from the sandwich and crisps I ‘accidentally’ ate at lunchtime today). This is not about beating myself up, just about clinging to the top of the slippery slope before I end up at the bottom, somewhere I don’t want to be. And the time to increase the training is now. Time to stop procrastinating and making excuses and get on with it.
Well…almost. It’s a holiday weekend and I am off to London tomorrow for 48 hours of childfree fun. I am catching up with friends, eating out, taking in some culture (Alexander McQueen exhibition! The Tiger Lillies live!) and no doubt partaking of a cocktail or two. I will walk a lot, but otherwise enjoyment will be the order of the day, not exercise. Excuses excuses, I know.
The thing is, I know I mean business, so that’s all that counts. On Monday, I will take the wee boy for a long walk somewhere and get back to a class on Tuesday. And the next day. And the next. As the King would say, a little less conversation, a little more action. Just a little.
Until next time,