November 2015 – Stop Faffing About

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Reading the Newspaper

Stopping FAFFing About can be applied in work and home life. I even apply it to reading newspapers.

Everyone has their own view on the value of newspapers – the reporting, the political bias, the sensationalisation of anything thought to be of interest to the masses and of course, the celebrity status of anyone with 5 minutes of fame. I used to watch my parents and others from their generation religiously sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper from cover to cover. It’s really not my thing. Not surprisingly I do not have the time, and I don’t know anyone who can afford to give that amount of time everyday to a newspaper. When I do sit in a coffee shop and take a paper from the rack to read,  I have a sense of guilt at the time used up. Yet it is a guilty pleasure too.

The frightening thing I have always found is the misplaced belief in the newspaper telling us the whole truth – it said so in the Guardian or the Daily Express,  so it must be true etc. The scare mongering can be incredible. A classic example is identity theft. I realise that this  is a serious problem and should be taken seriously. However when your mother, an intelligent woman in her late 70s is so scared of identity theft because of what she has read in the newspapers and discussed with her friends who have also read the same papers, there is a problem.

Think of when those charities send, via the post, requests for donations and within the envelope are address labels for my mother at her address for her to use on future letters that she sends. They are there to promote the general awareness of that particular charity, nothing sinister. My mother (before we bought her a shredder) would, by hand, cut up every address label individually – 50 per sheet (!) paranoid that someone would find out her address from going through her bins and then steal all of her wealth. She lives in a flat and can be found at that address on Google and many other search engines, a 10mm by 15mm address label isn’t the target of a potential identity thief, but that is what she has been led to believe. Incredible.

I do not need or want to be polluted and conditioned by the particular angle that a particular paper is reporting. I prefer to find and understand my own truth. This has been achieved from grazing, rather than reading, various websites from the newspapers to the TV stations from around the world. It is quite incredible the difference you will find in reporting standards and style when reading an article on the BBC website followed by Aljazeera and then the same article in a newspaper. All are very different and give you neutral and barbed positions – its up to you to choose which angle to believe.

It takes a long time to read three versions of the same story to obtain a balanced view.  So sadly, as a result the number of stories I read is very low – one or two a day at the moment – 5 minutes rather than the 45 minutes that my parents took. FAFFing is something I do not have time for, so therefore I only read what I want to when I want to. I might not be as well read as the person who sits next to me, but my view will be balanced.

Just get it done – why procrastination will always hold you back

In a world where approximately 20% of people would identify themselves as procrastinators, we are forced to ask why this problem hasn’t been tackled yet. It has huge impact on productivity, on health and wellbeing, and on finances, yet seems to be something some individuals are prepared to live with, even when it affects their quality of life.

Society doesn’t seem to take procrastination seriously. We are happy to listen to people’s excuses without arguing, even if we feel they are untrue. This doesn’t mean we condone their lies: we are taught by society to not pick fights. To the procrastinator, though, they simply don’t recognise there is a problem. The issue is one of self-regulation, not of poor time management or bad planning. In many cases, it is likely that procrastination was learnt in childhood, either as a form of rebellion to controlling parents or as a result of never learning to control their own activities.

Perhaps more dangerously, there is some evidence that procrastination also indicates increased tendencies towards alcohol as another aspect of that missing self-regulation. There is also a trend towards internalised dishonesty: a procrastinator will believe themselves when they say they will ‘feel more like it tomorrow’ but as humans, we are unable to accurately predict our emotional or physical state over the coming days and the principle is inherently flawed. They also are inclined towards actively seeking out distractions and the trivial activities take up their valuable time, but a distracted brain does not have to engage with its fear of failure – one of the main root causes of procrastination.

According to Joseph Ferrari  and Timothy Pychyl * there are three types of procrastination: arousal based thrill seeking, avoidance, or decisional procrastination. Arousal types get a sense of satisfaction from the adrenalin rush and added pressure as the deadline approaches. Avoidance centres around fear of failure (or in fact fear of success) and is obsessed with what others may think, to the extent that they would rather people saw them not try than saw them not succeed. Decisional procrastination is the utter avoidance of any decision making processes, removing any responsibility from the overall result. But with increased evidence of a physical health toll caused by procrastination, is it not just better to get it done? Through assessing your procrastination style, the root can be identified and dealt with  leading to a happier and more productive work life.

* Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.