Home The Author The Book Reviews FAQs More Stuff The Other Side


BLOG

RSS Feed 

Friday, January 11, 2008

 

Busywork

You know what's a good procrastination when you're supposed to be writing?

Cleaning.

There are several reasons why this is a pernicious distraction:

1. It makes you feel like a good person, especially if you don't live alone. Rather than being selfish, you're doing something that everybody will benefit from. They'll appreciate you. They'll think you're great. They might appreciate you if you wrote as well, of course, but that would involve writing.

2. You have to clean sometime. If you never clean, you turn into one of those weirdos who stockpiles newspaper and never takes a bath, and you don't want to be one of those weirdos. Cleaning is necessary. There's no sense putting it off. You can start writing a bit later, but you really do have to clean sometime.

3. You'll only worry about doing it if you don't do it now. You don't want to write when you've got cleaning on your mind, do you?

4. Like writing, cleaning makes the world a more beautiful place. And, in the artistic reaches of your soul, you really do what that, don't you?

5. It's much easier to write in a pleasant environment. You don't want to be dirty and uncomfortable, do you? No, of course you don't. It would distract you. You'd feel unsafe and find it hard to concentrate, and you can't write unless you concentrate. Which you can't, if you're worried about cleaning. So go and clean. It'll make it much easier to write. Really.

Those are my excuses, anyway; I'm sure other people will have others, or, indeed, other procrastinations, which I'd be interested to hear about. The real reason, of course, is that you're putting off writing, and cleaning is a good excuse. In a chapter of The Feminine Mystique entitled 'Housewifery Expands to Fill the Time Available', Betty Friedan remarks:

I ... discovered that many frantically busy housewives were amazed to find that they could polish of in one hour the housework that used to take them six - or was still undone at dinnertime - as soon as they started studying, or working, or had some other serious interest outside the house.

She posits:

1. The more a woman is deprived of function in society at the level of her own ability, the more her housework, mother-work, wife-work, will expand - and the more she will resist finishing her housework or mother-work, and being without any function at all. (Evidently human nature also abhors a vacuum, even in women.)

2. The time required to do the housework for any given woman varies inversely with the challenge of the other work to which she is committed.


Calling this 'busywork', she points to 'A series of intensive studies sponsored by the Michigan Heart Association at Wayne University [that] disclosed that "women were working more than twice as hard as they should", squandering energy trhough habit and tradition in wasted motion and unneeded steps.'

Friedan considers this the defence mechanism of people taking refuge from the responsibility to decide on an adult identity and commit to self-development. All of this sounds pretty dire - and I hasten to add that all I personally did this week was have an unproductive day because the bathtub really did need cleaning, and there were some errands to run - but the lady's got a point. If you're putting off something important that takes commitment and self-knowledge, mentally untaxing, fundamentally necessary stuff like cleaning is a terrific excuse.

So next time you reach for a mop when you should be writing, maybe ask yourself is the floor really as unbearable as all that? I decided to leave the mess alone today, and it's been my most productive day all week.

Comments:
Arrgh, for me it isn't cleaning, it's running errands. Suddenly, the library books must be dropped off today (even though they aren't due for a week. I also find myself lollygagging through the grocery store, examining every ingredient label, when I should pick up my usual food and be out of there quickly.

If you put down the mop, I'll put down the car keys, and we'll both get more done. :-)
 
Post a Comment



<< Home

Archives

July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   June 2010   July 2010   August 2010   September 2010   October 2010   November 2010   December 2010   January 2011   February 2011   March 2011   April 2011   May 2011   June 2011   July 2011   August 2011   September 2011   October 2011   November 2011   December 2011   January 2012   February 2012   March 2012   April 2012   May 2012   June 2012   July 2012   August 2012   September 2012   October 2012   November 2012   December 2012   January 2013   February 2013   March 2013   April 2013   May 2013   June 2013   July 2013   August 2013   September 2013   October 2013   March 2014  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?