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Much Ado About Romance

Much Ado About Romance

It’s the most timeless thing in the history of time: romance. Cupid’s arrows have been flying about since before Christ was born and they are still going strong. They strike down hundreds of thousands of unassuming folks every single day. Then follows the age-old duet of endless phone calls, intimate dates, blooming flowers, and sparkling gifts. If your eyes aren’t glazed over already, here is a little statistic: Valentine’s Day spending in US alone is about $20 Billion. That’s one day in one country, folks (if you are reading this post and didn’t get a gift on Valentine’s Day, now is the time to breathe, just breathe — killing him is not the solution!).

We are obsessed, aren’t we? Shakespeare wrote some 40 plays and 150 sonnets and all we can really remember about the poor guy is “Romeo and Juliet” — suicide in love. Just doesn’t get more romantic than that. Every culture has its own versions of romance that are full of grand gestures — wars fought and monuments built and every little detail documented in ballads and books. Today, it translates into the customary chocolates and jewelry (to all the men complaining about that, had it been the 17th century, you would have to commit suicide to prove your love).

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Interrupting the trance of romance

For one moment though, I’ll request that Cupid take a (well-deserved) rest while I ask a little question: what does romance stand for?

We spend years waiting for that one prolonged look, for that perfect candlelit dinner, for that obscenely huge bouquet and that dazzling faultless solitaire. What does it mean? The longer the look, the truer the love?

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We spend months planning the most romantic wedding. That wedding dress should make Vera Wang tear up and that first dance should make William and Kate look clumsy like Mr. and Mrs. Shrek. What does it mean? The more romantic the wedding, the longer the marriage?

For all these years, have we been using romance as the proxy for love? More importantly, is it?

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If he loves to hold your hand, is he a keeper? What if the guy takes care of you in a dependable sort of way but suffers from sweaty palms? Would you rather have a big bouquet of roses or would you rather he gets laundry done while you are having a difficult day at work (I know you want to say both, but then even your guy wants a cross between Angelina Jolie and Martha Stewart — all the best with that!)?

Romance is just that — romance

It’s exciting and it’s fun but it is not Love. In fact, a lot of times, there is no correlation between the two. You could have a lot of romance — a lot of flowers, a lot of dates, a lot of chocolates — and the very next day a little fight can end in a breakup because your partner can give you flowers but they cannot give up their ego. All the same, if they never ever get you those flowers but keep calm while you are having a “nobody mess with me” day, what you miss are some roses, but what you get is understanding — that’s a pretty good deal.

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There can be love without romance and it can last you a lifetime, but the other way around doesn’t work. It cannot last. Sure, things can get boring, but all that’s needed is for you to drag your partner out of bed and throw a tantrum about wanting to go eat at that new place. The best part is that when you do go eat at that new place, you don’t get judged for spilling food all over your clothes despite the napkin around your neck. The romantic fellow with the jewelry is going to sit there getting embarrassed; that boring dependable guy will help you clean up (after adequate laughter of course — no one is an angel here).

I guess it’s time we let cute little Cupid grow up a bit. For those of us who have seen our parents together for 30 years, we know it’s not about romance. In fact, if your dad got your mum flowers, she would probably rush him to the doctor. Not to mention your dad cannot distinguish a rose from a cactus, so it’s a stretch anyway.

It’s about just hanging around and being there in a consistent (though sometimes reluctant) way. That’s pretty much love served up in all its glory. It’s not about Romeo and Juliet dying for love. It’s about Romeo and Juliet surviving each other for love, all sprinkled with a few moments of joy (when no one has to do laundry).

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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