If you want to see the noble art of procrastination played out for all it is worth then all you need is an eighteen-year-old son and the prospect of Maths, Physics and Geography “A” level revision. Normal domestic tasks such as shoe-cleaning, tidying up bedrooms and even occasional dog-walking or guitar practice become the most interesting and important things to do this side of the turn of the century. However, I must not be rude to my son as, truth be known, he has inherited the skill from a master!
It will come as no surprise that, when I was a boy (and a lot of times thereafter), my favourite poem was one of A.A. Milne’s classic. “The Old Sailor”. A precautionary tale of a shipwrecked mariner of some years who, once marooned on an island, sat down to decide the best course of events. His list of wants was large and long and ranged from the practical (hats and water to drink) through the aspirational (chickens and goats) to the scary (savages and the security of a nice solid door to close). Perhaps, predictably, the choice was too great and probably the sun too hot, and so, in the end, he simply sat on the foreshore wrapped in a towel awaiting eventual rescue. All of this is beautifully rhymed by Milne and illustrated by the great EH Shepard. A perfect description of a life full of so many contradictions that the fuse blows and precisely nothing is achieved. I would recommend it to you – and a great way to use up some time without achieving anything other than simple guilty pleasure.
However, procrastination can also apply to those things in your business that you have happily “parked” in the “too difficult/awkward” tray which can often include those nasty disputes that need sorting out but the arguments have ground to a halt and if you ignore them long enough they might (but never do) go away or settle themselves. In many in-trays there is a solid layer of “stuff” in this category. Useful New Year activity includes sorting through this tray, shuffling the paperwork in a meaningful way, and then simply returning it to the “compost” layer but slightly neater and better stacked than when you picked it up. In proper “old sailor” manner you are in the blanket basking in the New Year sun waiting for your nautical colleagues to rescue you. Or you can simply bury the issues in the pile for another few months. Perhaps it will come to the surface again for the “end of March/New Tax year” sorting.
Imagine, for one wondrous moment, that at least some of these things are resolved. Releasing time, possibly money, and creativity to get you going for the New Year. It can be done! All it might take is a call to ASM and time with a Mediator. One of a mediator’s key skills is to unblock the most stuck issue and, once things begin to move, much like snow in an avalanche, it can be dramatic where things end up. And, best of all, nothing is settled unless you are happy to do so! Imagine how liberating this can be. Go on I dare you!
If you have a solid wedge of procrastination over things that need simply sorting out – call ASM!
Or, you can simply bask on your beach awaiting rescue – except this may never come!
ADR Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator, Certified Accountant and member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (former Chair of the East Anglia Branch), university lecturer and trainer and a member of the CIOT Dispute Resolution and Litigation working group.