英语学习:Delay、prioritizing与procrastination

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“Tomorrow is another day!”(明天是新的一天!)这是Margaret Mitchells名著Gone With the Wind结尾,主角Scarlett O’Hara说的一句话,原句是︰”I’ll go home, and I’ ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

故事以美国Civil War为背景,Scarlett O’Hara样貌娇美但性格硬朗,战乱期间失去富裕的生活但撑起一家渡过难关,丈夫Rhett Butler对她呵护备至,但她对旧情人念念不忘,令Rhett一怒离去,但Scarlett却不灰心,认为有明天就有希望可令Rhett回心转意。 “Tomorrow is another day”,表现了她积极的心态。

“Tomorrow is another day”,就像政府宣传正面人生态度的短片中,少年鼓励失意的朋友“希望在明天”。

“Tomorrow”代表希望,放眼将来可令我们不会因一时的挫折而失去斗志,不过,”tomorrow”亦可以是躲懒的借口、失败的原因。钱鹤滩的〈明日歌〉︰“明日复明日,明日何其多。我生待明日,万事成蹉跎。”说的就是个道理。

愈拖愈易失败

“蹉跎”是to idle away、to waste time、to let every opportunity slip away。把今天要做的事推到明天,通常明天又继续拖到明天的明天,但这“通常”不是因为想颓废、蹉跎,而是procrastination。

Procrastinate是动词,解拖延;procrastination是名词,也解拖延。 Procrastination很普遍,有谁可说从没试过procrastinate?论文迟迟不动笔,工作报告等到不能再等才开工做,小事如付帐单,执拾家具,都可以是procrastinate的对象,一拖再拖,告诉自己或别人,今天不做,明天就会做。

Procrastination的恶果大家都知。 “Procrastination is common – but in extreme(极端的) cases it can be bad for your health, putting you under extra stress as the missed deadlines whizz by(飕飕飞过).”对付这个恼人的习惯,专家说靠” willpower(意志力)”并不足够。

Procrastination的原因不一定是懒惰,可能是怕失败,不过愈拖,失败的机会就愈大。

因利成便方法

To deal with these emotions, it helps to look for the positives(好处) in the task. Ideally these are not the rewards(回报、报酬、报偿) it might bring in the future, but something good about the process itself. Perhaps you ‘ll learn something or perhaps you feel more absorbed than you expect once you get into it.

另一个方法是”reduce the effort involved”,这可称为“因利成便”法:

You need to make it as easy as possible to get started. If you’re hoping to go running mid-morning, get dressed in your running clothes. Or lay out your work on your desk the night before so that the first thing you see if that task you need to get on with. Remove any distractions(分心的事物).

要避免犯”planning fallacy”的错误,实际地看明天,不要以为明天你会变得更有条理,更自律,今天的问题明天可更有效率地解决,因为这是错误的想法。

Oxford English Dictionary初版最初宣布1862年完成,结果到1879年才写到”ant”字;到1928年才完成,出版时很多内容已不合时,须立刻着手写修订版。

Timothy Pychyl在他的Solving the Procrastination Puzzle中解释,不是所有delay(延后)都是procrastination,有些delay只是prioritizing(分先后次序、按优先顺序处理)。他提供办法,破解真正的procrastination。

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