“You know what thought did? It ran after a dust-cart, thought it was a milk-float” – anon
Neil Armstrong stood on his parents porch, looked up at the moon one cloudless evening in late autumn, the leaves having long begun their silent descent, and decided he was going to go and walk on it. He went. Martin Luther King tired of racial segregation and instilled in himself the belief that he could set in motion the end of racial injustice. He did. Seventh born of eleven children, Jesse Owens took it upon himself to be the greatest short distance athlete of a generation. He won 4 gold medals in Berlin in 1936, right under the racist noses of the Third Reich and re-wrote the history books. Rosa Parks sat down like no person has ever, and will ever do. Isambard Kingdom Brunel thought that building a steam ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean was well within his means, set about doing it and then built The Clifton Suspension Bridge as an after-thought. Timmy Mallet thought he should go on television and hit children over the head with a pink foam hammer. Sadly for a generation, procrastination was not one of his stronger traits.
Encyclopedia’s have been artfully crafted highlighting the deeds, words, inventions, ideas and actions of people for whom procrastination was a 4-letter word that should forever rot in the deepest darkest regions of Middlesbrough. Sadly for the other 99% of the free-speaking world, it is an ugly, unshakable hobbit, forever loitering over the shoulder, eager to ambush any ideas that spontaneously materialise and replace them with visions of grandeur. Anything, everything, something that should be done instead. We are taking the blame for all of the great ideas and inventions that have wilted and died at the hands of procrastination. We are taking the blame for your procrastination so you can release the shackles and go and do what it is you intended to do before mañana.
Psychologists on Wikipedia (Schraw, Pinard, Wadkins, and Olafson – to give them an identity) have proposed three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying. So who hasn’t experienced that? If you have, if you are, or if you ever do, think about the people mentioned above. Think about them and their equals, for they are many, and take a leaf out of an old Nike advertising slogan. Just do it.
Online solitaire is great, that is not in doubt, but it won’t win you any nobel prizes and it sure won’t help you get that essay finished. Checking your emails for the umpteenth time this minute will not solve your debt crisis or get you laid. Another cup or tea will hydrate you but it won’t rise up out of the cup and write your CV or clean the house or book your holiday or call an old friend or finish that painting you promised yourself to finish. It won’t magically fix your car or explore the world, take you to the theatre, experience something new or learn you a language. Only you can do that and procrastination is the only thing standing in your way. And if you can’t shake it, we take the blame for it. Because nobody else will.