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March 16, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Procrastination is Like Masturbation…


At 5.50am tomorrow I leave for Dublin for a week, returning to Leeds for a mere two days before embarking on a five-week-long adventure to Spain, Morocco, Italy and Turkey. Waiting to welcome me on return are three ominous deadlines, for essays currently nowhere near completion. Considering I certainly do not intend to lug my laptop around northern Africa, or spend warm Spanish evenings doing anything more strenuous than sipping sangria by the beach, that equates to roughly seven thousand words in, quite frankly, an impossible amount of time.

You would expect that this predicament would be enough to spur even the biggest dropkick into action. But somehow I consistently catch myself falling into the tiresome trap of flicking between my Facebook homepage, email inbox, and any other website that I find suitably distracting. Given that I spend approximately five minutes procrastinating to every few sentences typed, this does not bode well for the treacherous mountain of work amassing on my desk.

It’s so easy to sorrowfully purport that I’m “absolutely swamped with work”, which has left me “sooooo stressed”, and mourning my lack of social life. Yet I still find the time to moan about this to my friends on Facebook, not to mention refresh my homepage every five minutes to see if they’ve replied. I maintain this terrible habit despite the fact that, taking full advantage of the wonders of the information age, I receive Facebook updates via text, just in case, heaven forbid, I miss some urgent and vitally important comment on the most recent ‘photo of me’. In such an instance it is imperative that I reply immediately, which I can do, of course, on my phone.

With so much available at our very fingertips, our generation is becoming increasingly unable to fathom a world without the wonders of instant communication, a world where meaningful handwritten letters were sent via snail mail and when meetings with new friends didn’t end with “I’ll add you on Facebook.” It seems ironic that although technology has opened up this whole new world to us it leaves us glued to our sofas and laptop screens.

I hate that I can’t bring myself to concentrate on the work which I know urgently needs to be started. I loathe the fact that on beautiful spring days if I could just motivate myself to churn out those sentences faster, then I could actually have a chance to enjoy the sunshine rather than gaze longingly at it through the window. I am disgusted at my own indolence when I insist to my pleading friends that “I can’t possibly go out tonight” because I have “soooooo much work to do”, and then spend the night wallowing in self-pity having achieved virtually nothing.

Conversely, if I do decide to abandon the essay and spoil my non-existent work ethic for the sake of “just one night” of fun, I spend the night stricken with guilt and unable to tear my mind away from the assignment sitting painfully unattended and incomplete at home. I think the only thing that scares me more than contemplating how many hours, weeks, or even months of my life I have spent partaking in utterly futile time-wasting, is the fact that if there was a task sufficiently in need of avoidance, I would probably waste more time actually attempting to calculate it.

We all want to abide by the motto Carpe Diem, to seize the day and suck all the marrow out of life. We are constantly reminded of how limited and precious our time on this earth really is and we all possess dreams, hopes and aspirations. Why then, do we, time and time again, aggravatingly subjugate the pursuit of grand and honourable plans to guilt-inspiring and thoroughly unsatisfying familiar comforts?

What never fails to amuse me is the frequent “500 words down, 1500 to go!” status updates—well you could have just made it 1494 if those words had been directed towards something more productive! Imagine what we could achieve if we actually channelled all our energies into something more productive! Think of how advanced the human race could be if those mindless distractions that seem to take over our lives were replaced by the pursuit of innovation, philosophy and science. I am sure that we could all be running marathons and writing Tolkien-esque epics, if only the human mind was not so easily diverted by… “Hey, what’s that person doing over there?”

The truth is though, I am slightly unnerved by the idea of a world of constantly proactive people. Maybe it is just my attempt to justify my own laziness, but there seems something unnatural and disconcerting to me about these kinds of people. Do they ever sit down? Or stop to enjoy the solace of doing absolutely nothing, even if just for a moment? Sometimes it even seems like, amidst all the hustle and bustle of their lives, they could forget to breathe.

What a good life really needs is balance. Writing this has inspired me to make a conscious effort to always attempt to be proactive, and avoid falling into the tiresome trap of procrastination. I need to make no promises to myself in regards to relaxing more, as this is certainly a well ingrained habit. In fact, I think that I will avoid checking Facebook for an entire day after this. Who knows how long that will last, but I might take the opportunity to experience that wonderful feeling of a day well spent and without regrets.

That’s not to say that I want to live my life rushing from one place to the next and from one intensive project to another without pausing to celebrate an achievement, or to listen to the rain on the roof. Time is fleeting and we only have one chance to experience each moment, so why waste time doing the things that don’t inspire happiness, or at least fulfilment? So next time you find yourself distracted, yet again, remember that procrastination is like masturbation; in the end you’re only fucking yourself.


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Comments (17)

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  1. Red Fred says:

    It’s funny you should mention word counts, because I think you’re about 500 words over a “tidy column” limit. Cool insights – just too much padding.

    – Fred

  2. Shitkicker McGee says:

    Sometimes masturbation is procrastination.
    Just saying what we’re all thinking.

  3. smackdown says:

    harry potter is a great lion tamer

  4. Paul says:

    I like this column. Just saying.

  5. smackdown says:

    how glib and flippant paul thanks a lot wanna borrow my white album 45 tape sometime

  6. matt says:

    I was hoping this column would be about masturbation.

  7. Miller says:


  8. Abogado del diablo says:

    @matt: and i was hoping your comment would be insightful and interesting

  9. Pablo says:


    I am procrastinating at the moment, it is 01:20 and doing some work for my lecture at 10:00.

  10. Vini says:

    Hahaha You’re a genius Laurel, I love reading your stuff!

    What stokes me out completely is that you’ve just written this meaaaan piece of writing and it’s what, 1000 words maybe? That’s half an assignment done!

    What also stokes me out is that I too have 7000 words to write and the 150 words here havent contributed to that at all.

    In conclusion, I’m hungover and feeling guilty therefore wasting valuable salient website space before I return to my room to look out the window at the beautiful day outside.

    By the way Im not hungover, Im still drunk. It helps to clarify things.

    Love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

  11. Lucy says:

    very insightful piece Laurel, well done and enjoy your travels!

  12. Phoenix says:

    Ironic that most people who read this column will be doing so as procrastination from assignments. I know it’s what I’m doing. Dammit, I should switch off my internet when writing essays…

  13. exekias says:

    Not at all like masturbation…

    theres no mess at the end of procrastination and my right arm is vary rarely sore from procrastination unless i masturbated instead of working.

    just saying

    BTW have a nice trip

  14. Chuck says:

    Procrastination has a mess at the end of it; the mess is all the stuff you didn’t do when you were supposed to that is coming to a head. And the right arm thing only happens to limp wrists. Hit up the gym sonny.

  15. Brigitta says:

    Tonight me and demo created a group called “I think I deserve a break after trying to get started on this essay all day”, which I think you should join Laurel, it seems to apply.

    Also, I like reading your travel updates, it sounds like you’re still having an awesome time according to facebook statuses, despite all this work to do!

    And thanks for writing this, and therefore helping me procrastinate further.

    Hope you had an aaawesome birthday all the way over there :D

  16. Monica Dunkley says:

    hahaha guess what I’m doing right now

  17. Josh says:

    This is so funny,

    ‘So next time you find yourself distracted, yet again, remember that procrastination is like masturbation; in the end you’re only fucking yourself.’

    Jenny and I sat here whilst I read it out to then read this final sentence. Absolutely brilliant.

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