Delaying tactics

I’ve been thinking about posing this question for a while now but something usually stops me. I decide to have a cup of tea first to gather my thoughts, or the desk is too untidy to concentrate so I have to tidy it up first. Perhaps it might be better to sleep on it and come at it fresh in the morning (after I have a glass of orange juice and a bagel)
So here is my question, is this a common enough affliction so that there a scientific or medical term for someone who does this? I know that to delay making a decision is to procrastinate and in truth I am a bit of a procrastinator but my son has it off to a T. Time to do homework? After he sharpens his pencils, watches a programme on TV he absolutely can’t miss, has a few words with his mate because they have something important to discuss, and so on.
I have an idea that I might have heard an expression for this some time back but I can’t recall it and I hope I didn’t imagine it.

I don’t think you’ll get a better word than procrastination for what you’re describing. Cunctation is a synonym for procrastination that you hear now and again, maybe that has some nuanced differences in meaning.

Find a cure for procrastination and you’ll inherit the earth! (whilst simultaneously destroying the SD messageboard :frowning: )

I think you’re right, procrastination can’t be avoided it seems. I tried to because the expression I heard didn’t contain it.
Never mind, it is encouraging that it is very common… but discouraging that apparently procrastinators appear to be underachievers.

“Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow.”

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next week.”

Robert Benchley covered this subject well in How To Get Things Done. His thesis was t hat you can accomplish any amount of work whatever as long as it isn’t the work that is supposed to be done.

His illustration was the artice that he must write for a newpaper. So he put a fresh sheet in the typewriter and sat down to do it. But he noticed that his bookshelf was untidy so he straightened that out. Returning to his typewriter to get at that article he saw some letters to be answered on the desk and so he answered them.

Following that he saw some magazines with important articles on tropical fish that he must clip and save because he might buy one someday…

And so on. In all he accomplished several important tasks that he had been putting off and will get to that article the first thing Monday morning-Tuesday at the latest.

Note that procrastination is not necessarily an inefficiency. It is very possible that you are mentally unprepared for the task that you are procrastinating, and the only way you will become prepared is to delay starting the task. If you were to start the task immediately, you might start it in the wrong fashion, and waste your time redoing it.

You may not even be conscious that your ideas on how to start the project are half-baked, but while you are dusting the bookshelf or replacing the batteries in the remote control, you may be subconsciously working through the problems. Often, when you begin procrastinating, it is because you are worried about how difficult the task will be. When you actually get around to doing it, you often find that it was easier than you thought it would be. But perhaps it would have been as difficult as you thought it would be, if you had started immediately.

Now I know why nobody responded to my question for such a long time. You were all thinking about it and getting mentally prepared. :slight_smile:
I did find a pretty good starting point here link which I found interesting, but I appear to be mistaken in thinking there was a smart expression I could use next time I saw someone “procrastinating”.
(the link goes to some good quotes but the site has lots more information)