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On Prevarication, JIT, and Acorns & Oaks

22 May

oak and acorn

So, it’s true – the acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak. I just read this article on early risers vs late night owls, roughly 10 mins after my daughter finally got up this morning/ afternoon – at 12.10 (that’s p.m.)! And, despite my frustration at the time she was getting up, was forced to face my own habits – I have done various all-nighters throughout my life, but ask me to wake up at even 7 a.m…..and I’m like someone asked me to run a marathon! So, not surprised lo sleeps at 4 and wakes up at 12.

I also see this same genetic influence in her regarding another bad habit – that of “putting off things till tomorrow that should ideally be done today”. In other words, prevarication! The fact that I didn’t write a blog for well over 3 months, was basically prevarication – so is this now-almost-extinct book project I launched upon a year ago! This unfortunately is a lifelong habit.

When I think about it, prevarication is a fantastic way of letting nature prioritize tasks for you – basically, you keep putting things off till they either assume monumental do-or-die proportions, thus forcing you to put your head down and work to finish that task; or they just fade away – which basically means that they weren’t all that important to begin with. Read this article to see how procrastinating does help you become more focussed and productive!

But the other aspect of it is that I work best under a deadline – the buzz that a concentrated effort with a looming deadline brings, is unparalleled – I know advertising agencies work best that way – maybe desperation brings out the creative juices in a way that having a lot of time doesn’t. Or maybe, it’s just that some folks are wired a certian way, and they only work best under pressure.

All my life – whether it was exams , where I wouldn’t study throughout the year, but basically not sleep the entire week/ fortnight of exams; or, whether it was a client deadline on work that would get done JUST-in-time…I’ve practiced this last minute way of work. Not easy on parents/ teachers/ fellow workers – but, hey, it works!

The Japs made JIT such a big management phenomenon, and supply chains all over the world, for example at Wal-Mart, specialised in optimal inventories and thus enormous cost reductions, due to JIT!


The best slant on what I would ruthlessly call the big P word, but HBR calls the theory of optimum delay is this link. It talks about how it’s almost always better to wait a bit – whether it is Jimmy Connors’ tennis shot, or a decision made after some delay (infact, in true HBR style, it even has a shorthand for it – OODA – observe, orient, decide, act)

The interesting point that emerges therefore I guess is about the value of time. We always heard Time is Money, and the hare vs. tortoise story about wasting time resulting in a certain win being converted into an ignominious loss! But the author argues here, that the time spent “observing, orienting and deciding; actually ends up being useful time in the end.

Coming back to procrastination however, the kind I am talking about is the one where you are not necessarily achieving much out of the delay – but instead spending time on arbit rubbish, convincing yourself you are WORKing – it’s like when my daughter sits in front of her comp at her desk, with her books open; but then watches Bethany Mota or Superwoman or Into the Woods – in her mind, she is working! Or, when I continuously scroll between facebook, whatsap and email – convincing myself I am reading/ enlarging my mind —- all of this is chronic procrastination!

So, the question is: Is procrastination good or bad, (or, if bad, how do you avoid it)

I really like this article where procrastination is related to willpower, or the limited amount of it. “If you’re thinking about procrastinating, it’s already too late” it says. Sounds familiar? 🙂

IMO, habitual procrastinators are just so – they can at best become a bit better – I think what is important is whether they get results despite procrastinating, i.e. whether their procrastination achieves success, or ends up in failure. I suspect this in turn relates to — how much horse power the procrastinator has — as an example, I repeatedly did things last minute, because I saw time after time, that I COULD do things last minute – whether it was cramming for the year’s portions the day before the exam, or a client deadline to be sent off.

It also relates to, WHAT kind of work is being delayed – as I said before, some work actually is better for the delay. Read this article on how prevarication is better for productivity

Things To Do List

Most experts give advice on how to battle procrastination. Most procrastinators are experts at listening to, then ignoring this advice. I did like some of the stuff in this article which talks about whisker goals as opposed to stretch goals, and how to not let a task list overwhelm you; and this nice logout tip for productivity.

For folks who are annoyingly on time all the time, obviously sometimes it is better if procrastinators around them learn how to manage this addiction! Here is some more reading on this topic (clearly written by someone who is NOT a procrastinator, and thus has NO idea what he is talking about!)

tech adoption lifecycle

We all know the adoption life cycle – in many cases, early adopters, while being the first to get to experiment with new stuff and getting the pleasure of it; also the associated status; as well as creating a new market, also sometimes become guinea piggish – so, in case the new tech doesnt do well, they suffer reversals. On the other hand, procrastinators (only, the tech life cycle doesn’t use the P word – it calls them the “mature” consumers), get to enjoy the combined experience of all the early adopters – and benefit from iterations in technology, also very often cheaper prices as, due to scale, prices of the new tech stuff drops.

Even in the newer versions of the hare and tortoise stories, the procrastinator hare becomes smarter, and not only runs faster and steadier, but also changes the rules of the game to enjoy better/ more suited to him – wins.

So, ofcourse, being a die hard procrastinator, I will look for the pluses – but I have to confess, when I wear my mom hat, I’m not so happy seeing this in my lo!

Having said that, facebook fed me another early vs late night article which was reasonably complimentary to “night owl chronotypes”), so, maybe, procrastinator oak notwithstanding, my acorn has some hope in life yet!


Erma Bombeck & Social Media: 20 Erma-isms From “Aunt Joshi’s Copebook”

23 Jan


Clicked on an old blog from Pam Moore that compared Dr. Suess and Social Media. I shamelessly borrowed the idea, but applied to my all time favorite author, Erma Bombeck.

EB1: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.

SJ1: When I sit before my Social Media feed at the end of everyday, I would hope that I would not have a single unanswered post/ tweet left, and I could say – I engaged with everyone who mentioned me

EB2: Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes.

SJ2: A Reputation takes many years to build, and only one “United broke my guitar” to destroy it.

EB3: My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?

SJ3: Your theory on social media should be – you never know when a “lets go to Tahrir” can multiply, catch fire, and bring a country down – so care about each and every post that hits your page

EB4: When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.

SJ4:Whether its your mother, a fan or someone you don’t know – treat social media advice with responsibility – a) you’re going to get it anyway, but also b) you never know when it may multiply/ smell/ catch fire… (read earlier point)

EB5: Never have more children than you have car windows.

SJ5: Never open more Social Media channels than you (or your agency) can handle

EB6: People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.

SJ6: People should start with social media with more care than they start a marriage. The rules are the same. Look for something you are comfortable beginning. Allow room to grow. Have fun. Experiment, grow some more..

EB7: One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.

SJ7: One thing they never tell you about Social Media is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to acknowledge your fan or follower or just commenter, and care about what happened to her torn diaper, or bad tasting soft drink! Your life’s an open book, and you have little control over it!

EB8: Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.

SJ8: Starting a social media presence has no guarantees – Are you giving away too much info? Will it become like a tiger which you caught by the tail and now cant let go? Will you get caught by Regulation FD? If guarantees are what you’re looking for, go sell car batteries

EB9: Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, “A house guest,” you’re wrong because I have just described my kids.

SJ9: Do you know what you call those who read posts and never respond, who retweet content as original, who expect likes and shares but never do the same to what others write? Social Media Sloths

EB10: Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what.

SJ10: Bad news, Social Media has you doing JUST that – worrying about who doesn’t like you, who has more and who’s doing what!

EB 11: The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.

SJ 11: The odds of responding to a negative post on Social Media, and getting three times as many negative posts as a response to the response, are , if not three billion to one, atleast three to one

EB 12: Everyone is guilty at one time or another of throwing out questions that beg to be ignored, but mothers seem to have a market on the supply. “Do you want a spanking or do you want to go to bed?” Don’t you want to save some of the pizza for your brother?” Wasn’t there any change?”

SJ12: Everyone is …to be ignored, but detractors on Social media seem to have a market on the supply. “Wal-Mart, why are you not fixing my necklace that is broken?” “Oh Ikea, why do you lie!”

EB 13: Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.

SJ13: SocialMedia is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity – NOT

EB14: He who laughs…..lasts.

SJ14: On Facebook, as on twitter and pinterest and blogs and..He who laughs, lasts, and he who makes others laugh, lasts longer!

EB15: A child needs your love most when he deserves it least

SJ15: A commentor needs your response most when he’s been meanest to you

EB16: Throughout the years I have set up my own rules about eating food: Never eat anything you can’t pronounce.

SJ16: Never write anything on Social Media that you cant back up

EB17: Families aren’t easy to join. They’re like an exclusive country club where membership makes impossible demands and the dues for an outsider are exorbitant.

SJ17: SocialMedia communities are really easy to join – as long as you keep feeding the demands of constant engagement

EB18: It’s frightening to wake up one morning and discover that while you were asleep you went out of style.

SJ18: Ditto, so keep refreshing content on Social Media perpetually

EB19: Friends are “annuals” that need seasonal nurturing to bear blossoms. Family is a “perennial” that comes up year after year, enduring the droughts of absence and neglect. There’s a place in the garden for both of them.”

SJ19: Ditto for friends, fans, followers, subscribers…

And finally, the one I love! (I leave the SJ-ism to your imagination!)

EB20: I question the value of name tags as an aid to future identification. I have approached too many people who have spent the entire evening talking to my left bosom. I always have the insane desire to name the other one.