On Procrastination

I was in my garden yesterday planting flowers and generally avoiding doing any research on the grounds that the plants couldn’t wait (not true – they’d have been fine till the weekend).  I began to think about the ways in which I procrastinate.  Earlier that afternoon my supervisor had joked about co-habitation being a nuisance (my husband had arrived home unexpectedly early, thwarting any plans I had for lounging around) and this started me thinking about Socrates and Virginia Wolff.

iStock_socrates3If you google for “Socrates” and “marriage” this quote comes up attributed to Socrates (who, of course, never wrote it):1

“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

I remembered the thought well enough to know to look for it though, so I have read it somewhere, but the point I am wanting to emphasise here is that it is easy to be distracted by the mundanities of life – such as weeding the garden or cleaning the fridge – when there is serious (but maybe not urgent) research to be done.

And. of course, this is Virginia Wolff’s point in her famous quotation from A Room of One’s Own  – a feminist point in the original, but one that I think extends to all of us – we need freedom from the housekeeping and also from the distractions of everyday life if we are to be able to find the time to work productively:

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

VirginiaWoolf

However, despite my initial procrastination, the telephone call from my supervisor provided a catalyst and this post is the result – this is a post I’d been thinking about writing for ages and had never quite got around to doing – it kept bubbling over at the back of my mind but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.

There’s a lovely essay by Poincare on how creativity does not come from nowhere, but is actually the result of hard work, and there’s a nice book here that discusses  this. I may just procrastinate again and read that instead of researching for my thesis. 🙂

Update:  recently I read an article about how Women are significantly better at multitasking than men, which is interesting, and sort of relevant here.

1. Though this is not attributable  to Socrates, it is a likely paraphrase of his point of view, and both Plato and Xenophon tell similar stories about Socrates’ marriage.  See for example Leonard Woodbury Socrates and the Daughter of Aristides

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About Nomad War Machine

Philosopher, Doctor Who lover, knitter, anarchist. Gets paid for being a Learning Technologist at the University of Glasgow. I am interested in theories and models of co-operative learning, in particular the Jigsaw Classroom, and I have just started a PhD about that sort of stuff. Twitter: @NomadWarMachine
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