I suppose it’s time to come clean and admit that my procrastinating “ability” isn’t really that astounding. It doesn’t enhance my existence. It mostly makes life difficult for the people I care about. When something is so ingrained in your personality, it’s hard to recognize it as a defect. It’s taken a while to get to this point, beyond the “accept me for who I am” mantra. Time to get down to brass tacks, (#mostfavoriteexpression.) I’m ready to cooperate with the universe to get things done – introducing Unprocrastinating method 1.0: Don’t break the chain. You may have heard of it – apparently it’s a motivational technique credited to Jerry Seinfeld, and the beauty is in the simplicity: you decide on a goal, buy a calendar and giant marker, and put an X on the calendar for every day you work on achieving the goal. For example, if I want to motivate myself to clean my house more efficiently, I might put my X on the calendar every time I spend three 20-minute periods on chores every day. I would be *winning*. The only problem: I bought my calendar and giant marker 5 weeks ago and still haven’t so much as removed the shrink-wrap.
Perfectionism? Fear of failure? Laziness? Busyness? Overly optimistic? All bad excuses. Just do it? Doesn’t work. I think I need a personal life coach, (is that a thing?)
I’m not naturally introspective, so the notion that my super power (aka “procrastination”) is linked to depression is a hard pill to swallow. This article claims the two are related. Damn. The good news is that this article says both conditions are common and considered *symptoms* of a deeper problem rather than disorders in and of themselves. I suppose that’s not exactly “good” news for me, but if it sheds light on my situation I’m happy to delve deeper. Depression/anxiety/procrastination are all indicators that one’s relational/emotional needs aren’t being met.
“Anxiety and depression are symptoms of psychosocial needs and threats. They should NOT be, first and foremost, considered alien feelings that need to be eliminated or fixed, any more than we would treat pain from a broken arm, coldness and hunger primarily with pills that takes away the feelings, as opposed to fixing the arm, getting warmer or feeding the hungry individual.” – Gregg Henriques, PhD
So if I’m moping around and putting off the ever-present mountain of laundry, apparently it’s time to evaluate my relationships. Am I making the time to hang out with fellow moms? Is there something that needs to be resolved with my significant other or my parents? I try to avoid relationship-think, but if I’m always getting caught in the “poor me” trap then my super power isn’t doing me any good. Time to clean house and put the “relate” into my relationships…I’ll start on that tomorrow.
I’ll admit that, like any superpower, procrastination has its limits. Speeding through a task fueled only by a rush of adrenaline is a skill only a select few should undertake. It’s not for the faint of heart, or for the logical of heart. People like my long -suffering husband, a model of logical thinking. Spock pales in comparison. Yet somehow we’ve survived last-minute packing, late bill fees, and speed-demon clean-ups on Easter morning. Is the idea of getting caught part of the thrill?
There has to be an evolutionary function for procrastination, the opposite but equally effective version of “the early bird gets the worm.” The late bird gets a discounted worm? The late bird gets to sleep in and find an equally tasty worm because the bird works better under pressure? Procrastination is secretly a superpower. My superpower is being able to hide several loads of laundry and sweep up stray crumbs in between doorbell rings. Impressive, right? And I always win the mini van trash relay that happens right before Gramma gets in the front seat. No longer a Last Minute Lucy, from now on I’ll be known as Entropy Girl, Defender of the Disorganized!
Kids say the darndest things…we’ve addressed my punctuality problem but have I mentioned the frequent bouts of absent-mindedness? One episode involved my cute-as-a-button 4-year-old and it also happened to be her very first week of school. Ever. As she waited expectantly for her mommy to arrive at dismissal time I sat at the desk of my part-time job lost in my own universe, unaware that her wide little eyes were scanning the parking lot for mommy to arrive and take her home, away from her toe-tapping teacher and vacant classroom. The instant my phone rang I snapped back to reality. My heart sank when I realized my mistake. I squealed into the parking lot and the moment I reached the front office was the moment I was christened “late mommy!” by my then wild-eyed daughter. Not my finest hour and not forgotten to this day. Silver lining: a kick-ass blog name.
Procrastination has a funny way of oozing into the rest of your business. Take punctuality, it’s easy to find an excuse to be late for nearly every occasion when you let procrastination take over. It gives you false peace of mind, telling you not to rush, you still have five minutes, you’ll get there when you get there. Which oddly enough is consistently ten minutes late, no matter where I happen to be going or how far I’m traveling. Ten minutes beyond the acceptable point of arrival every.single.time. My subconscious is working overtime to make me look like a total moron. Self-destruct much? A professional opinion may need to be called in to unpack all of this, (arms circling around in a wild flourish indicating the general chaos is the background.)
It is soooooo hereditary, (not that it’s an excuse.) My dad is a classic avoidant type personality. He worked from home when we were kids and the evidence was clear – piles upon piles of paperwork waiting to be sorted, completed or filed. And in the middle of it all, a perpetual reminder to “Do it now” emblazoned on a golden plastic paperweight. Somehow even though the inspirational message never translated into better work habits his procrastination tendency didn’t hamper his success in business. Which begs the question, is there an advantage to having this particular personality trait? Does being a procrastinator by nature somehow give you an edge in certain situations? The search for a silver lining continues…
You bet. Certain things you never forget, like attempting to get your college applications postmarked on the last day allowed. Going to the post office minutes before it closes and slamming your shin into the business end of a 1984 Cutlass passenger side door. Somehow I ended up as a freshman at American University and you can guess which student profile I adopted – classic procrastinator. I did mange some last-minute A’s but still wasn’t doing myself any favors. Wash, rinse , repeat and many moons later here I am: all-night Christmas wrapping, trips to the DMV to argue over expired car registrations, eye-rolling over credit card late fees. So many real-life consequences and yet there’s no stopping me – what makes procrastination so delicious?????
Exactly. Procrastination is a confusing business. I claim to be a “procrastinator in rehabilitation.” This blog is where I will lay out my master plan for un-procrastinating. Or is it a subconscious way to become an even better, more productive procrastinator? Stay tuned to find out which way this goes…