Disrespect for the future

A Reading Note

Some perspective on the art of procrastination:

Every time we postpone some necessary event—whether we put off doing the dishes till morning or defer an operation or some difficult labor or study—we do so with the implication that present time is more important than future time (for if we wished the future to be as free and comfortable as we wish the present to be, we would perform the necessary actions as soon as they prove themselves necessary). There is nothing wrong with this, as long as we know what we are doing, and as long as the present indeed holds some opportunity more important than the task we delay. But very often our decision to delay is less a free choice than a semiconscious mechanism—a conspiracy between our reasoning awareness and our native dislike of pain. The result of this conspiracy is a disconcerting contradiction of will; for when we delay something, we simultaneously admit its necessity and refuse to do it. Seen more extensively, habitual delays can clutter our lives, leave us in the annoying position of always having to do yesterday’s chores. Disrespect for the future is a subtly poisonous disrespect for the self, and forces us, paradoxically, to live in the past.

Grudin, Time and the Art of Living, page 101

As I’ve acquired more responsibilities, I’ve also become more careful about keeping track of everything I need to accomplish, and not letting myself get behind. I always try to end the day feeling like there is more work behind me than ahead.

Related books