Saturday, April 27, 2013

Faffing, Dithering - It's All Procrastination!

One of the fun aspects of being a writer is “meeting” people from all over the world, especially on twitter (which IS my biggest enabler of procrastination but since Jeffe Kennedy covered that so well earlier in the week, I’m not going there LOL). I have several really terrific friends from Downunder on twitter and they introduced me to the best term : faffing. It even has its own hashtag and a Tshirt. (What you think I’m kidding?)

I guess it actually comes from “to faff about” and it isn’t a euphemism for the other “f” word (or so I’ve been assured by everyone, including such an authority as  Here’s what they had to say about where my new favorite word comes from:

“It starts to appear as a dialect word in Scotland and Northern England at the end of the eighteenth century, as a description of the wind blowing in puffs or small gusts. …It may have been imitative of the sound of gusty wind, or it may be a variation on maffle, a more widely distributed dialect term in Scotland and England that means to… waste time and procrastinate…” so I guess I could be maffling, but does that have a hashtag?

So when I #amfaffing yes, I tend to cruise the social media, lose myself in eBay (the number of categories of things I can search for is amazing and endless and always leads to more treasure hunting…very bad for my budget), do research which leads me down paths to other things I never knew about and before I pay attention, hours have passed and I have all this very scholarly data which is fascinating but can’t be crammed into a romance novel - at best I can say with confidence my Ancient Egyptian heroine used crushed malachite for eyeliner and only I will ever know the entire backstory of where it was mined and how it got to Egypt and what it cost and what other trade goods came from…oh I digress. (Yes, yes I do tend to work Egypt into everything …)

My other favorite word about procrastination is dither.  While not exactly procrastinating, dithering overcomes me when I’m doing one thing but somehow I feel I should be doing something else or even two other things and then I get into a grid locked state and can’t make progress on anything, whereupon I go back to twitter and the faffing.

My best tool for avoiding either pitfall is to create a To Do list, figure out what the highest priority item is and then focus on just that one thing until I’ve taken it as far as I can. That frees me up from the glittery attraction of other chores because the Stern Mom Voice in my head says, “What does dusting up the living room have to do with Task #1 on the list, hmmm?” Playing this annoying but effective little recording keeps me from the dithering mode, where I try to do multiple things at once and have a massive FAIL. And possibly require a restorative nap or emergency administration of chocolate.

If the top priority item is too big to do in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll tell myself I’m going to work on it for half an hour, then check it off the list and move on.

Not going to tell you how many times I drifted off into faffing during the writing of this blog post!


  1. Ooh! I love that idea for dealing with big "To Do" items. The ones that take a long time and stay on my list FOREVER make me crazy. Totally adopting that approach.

  2. Your first picture would make me procrastinate, makes me want to lay down in that grass and search for cloud animals.

  3. Thanks, Alexia, I loved that photo too, for the same reasons! And Jeffe, glad the idea works for you - so true some things stay on the To Do List as if etched in stone LOL otherwise.