Sunday, July 10, 2022


Tools of Mass Procrastination


Zoë Sharp


Confession time. I last worked in an office environment—as in working for somebody else—thirty-five years ago. All I had on my desk back then was an electric typewriter and a landline telephone. The answering machine still had tape cassettes in it. I got to work in the mornings, worked all day, and went home at five-thirty.


OK, it was not without its occasional moments of drama, like the time I was accidentally locked into the building one night and had to climb out of an upper-storey window and then scramble across rooftops to freedom. Or the time, one week into a new job, when the boss said, “Right, we’re off on holiday next week. If the bailiffs arrive while we’re away don’t let them take anything…”


But generally, the biggest no-nos were arriving late or sneaking off early. People didn’t even leave their desks to have a smoke. In fact, I used to work sandwiched between two people who both chain-smoked and would leave cigarettes burning in their ashtrays while they nipped out on some errand. They didn’t take kindly to me stubbing out the ciggies in their absence. My excuse was if I had to smoke passively while they were around, then I was damned if I was going to do it while they weren’t.


My how things have changed. (Eeh, I remember when all this were fields, etc.)


And when I set up in business on my own as a freelance photojournalist back in 1988 my word processor was an Amstrad 9512 that had no internal memory and required the insertion of a Start-of-Day disk to remember what it was in the mornings.

If there was a mouse anywhere near it, it would have looked like this:

I was pretty technologically advanced by owning a computer at all, I can tell you! Not to mention my Motorola brick mobile phone. (Groovy, man.)


Distractions were simpler in those days. They involved staring out of the window:


And a game of solitaire meant shuffling the deck before you began:


Early computer games were not exactly Fortnite:

But now we’re overwhelmed with daily distractions. If it wasn’t for rapidly encroaching deadlines, I could spend so long getting side-tracked every day that I could practically walk like a crab:

But that can sometimes be a good thing, and I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite time-wasting sites:


They Fight Crime!

“He's an immortal guerrilla boxer on the wrong side of the law. She's a mistrustful tomboy former first lady who dreams of becoming Elvis. They fight crime!” Random pairings to get your imagination going.

Internet Movie DataBase

Always on my favourites’ list for when I want to know obscure facts. For instance, did you know that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of The Tourist is 6’8¾”?


I’m hopeless at crosswords, but Sudoku, I can’t leave alone. The link goes to my favourite online version.


What is your Diva Pro Wrestling Name?

Mine came out Chieftess Star. How about you?


But just in case wrestling is not your thing, how about your Blues Name? Mine’s ‘Steel-Eye Lemon Money Davis’. Wow, I think I may keep it.

So help me out here—or sink me deeper—what procrastination aids do you use to while away the, erm, I mean to help you concentrate while you’re mulling over a storyline?


This week’s Word of the Week is hamartia, meaning a fatal flaw. From the Greek hamartánein, meaning to miss the mark or to err. It is most associated with Greek tragedy and refers to flaws or defects of character which bring about the downfall of a hero. It can also refer to random accidents beyond the hero’s control, with devastating consequences.


(Readers may decide for themselves which is the more apt interpretation in light of this week’s dramatic turn of events in UK politics.)


  1. Blind Dog Franklin says that playing robot bridge is what helps him concentrate on writing. Yup.

  2. Fat Gumbo Jackson plays word games. Her favorite is Wordle on the New York Times website. It is challenging and engaging. And the best thing about it is that you can play only once in a twenty-four hour period. She confesses, though, that she sometimes logs on in the middle of the night and spends up to twenty minutes before getting the right word.

  3. Reading my fellow MIEr's posts. :)