04 Mar Procrastination Equation and Junk Food
I am a world class procrastinator. My pantry is bursting with odd ingredients I keep meaning to try but know will expire before I open them. There are two shelves of cookbooks in my office waiting to be read, and I once let my filing go unattended for eight straight months. As for this post? I’ve had a rough draft sitting on my computer for over a month.
To get to the source of my dilly-dallying, I have read quite a few books on procrastination. You might be shocked to hear that I’ve finished them all. But I assure you, reading them was just putting off another less palatable task, like filing tax returns or researching ways to code recipes for Google. Several books and hundreds of pages later I had a few theories but was still putting the pro in procrastination. I just had a better understanding of how I was making life harder.
What did I learn? Well, some experts say I’m a perfectionist. If I can’t do it right I won’t do it at all. Have they seen my ricotta gnocchi? Next theory…
Others say that I’m an optimist who grossly underestimates the amount of time needed to complete a task. True. The first few times I do something I am shocked at the time it takes. Initially, I thought a blog post would take half an hour. Three years in I know darned well it takes a good hour — and that doesn’t include the cooking, photography and post-posting promotion. That excuse is gone now, too.
So why do I answer non-urgent emails, update my Facebook status or aim for a golden egg on Angry Birds when I know if I don’t reconcile my receipts I’ll be spending a whole weekend frantically sorting paperwork come tax time? Turns out it’s all in my head. Quite literally. Blame my brain. According to The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel, “We are all hardwired with a time horizon that is appropriate for a more ancient and uncertain world where food quickly rots, weather suddenly shifts and property rights have yet to be invented.”
Steels identifies three kinds of procrastinators. I fit the profile of two — I’m impulsive and undervalue mundane but essential tasks. Apparently, the only thing I have going for me is that I feel I have a modicum of control over whether I succeed or fail. I’m not sure whether this is self-confidence talking or just plain, old-fashioned it’s-all-your-fault guilt.
What’s this got to do with food? A lot. Perhaps. According to Steel, there’s been a fivefold increase in chronic procrastination over the past few decades. During this time video games and television crept into daily life, causing great distraction. I can’t help but notice this time line also roughly coincides with the explosion of fast food restaurants, pizza parlors and convenience food. Is there a link? More than ever we seek distraction and fail to plan. I have no hard evidence but I suspect I’m not the only one whose well-intentioned online recipe searches result in LOL cats and no dinner ideas. Even though I know better, I often
wasted too much time am too busy to menu plan — despite iCalendar reminders. My emergency trips to the grocery store and “just this once” take out orders are the rotten fruits of my failure to think ahead — and act.
Is procrastination, regardless of its roots, tied to bad eating habits? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Likewise, if you’ve got any tips on breaking the procrastination habit when it comes to the kitchen, the comments section is open.
Photo © shawnzrossi. Published under a Creative Commons License.