…in the end, you only screw yourself.

*giggles*

That was one of the funniest sayings I’d ever heard when it was first told to me 14 years ago. Yep, I remember exactly who shared this bit o’ wisdom (Mike Dallas), where we were, and the conversation we had. Except I’ve censored it to “screw” where he dropped the F-bomb. It was definitely the shock value of the words that caught my attention but the weight of the message is what really made a lasting impression.

I didn’t always procrastinate. But somewhere along the way I started living the I can do it tomorrow mindset. Don’t ask me why I started because I really have no clue.

During my day job, my procrastination has to do with boredom–sometimes the tasks just aren’t as exciting as they used to be so I put them off to the last minute to create a challenge for myself.

The area of my life in which I procrastinate the most is fixing things. No, not like mending things with someone I’ve hurt or getting therapy for my issues. I mean the literal repair of something that’s broken. I really wish I knew why I do this, e.g. my car was vandalized in 2003 and I still haven’t replaced the missing antenna. I know, I know. Or, the stand alone freezer I purchased in August 2007 that quit working in October 2007, within its warranty period, yet still sits empty, not working, beside my fridge. Or, the eyeglasses I purchased on 11/3/2009, but they don’t fit right and squeeze my head ’til it hurts. I have 60 days from the date of purchase to exchange them. Do you think I’ve made it back into the office to do so? Nope, I sure haven’t. What the hell is that about?

I used to procrastinate about writing, but now, thanks to Think Sideways and some serious self-analysis, I know it was because of perfectionism, and I’m retraining myself and breaking that cycle. When I did procrastinate about writing, I would tell myself I couldn’t start because (a) I didn’t have a perfectly written outline, (b) I didn’t know if the idea was good enough, or (c) I had more important things to do. Yeah, I know, what’s more important than my passions, right?

In my quest for insight into these annoying behaviors of mine, I came across a ton of articles and I realized that I am by far not the only person who procrastinates. Whew! And maybe, just maybe, the one area in which I procrastinate the most – not fixing things as soon as they break – might not be that big of a deal…at least to me.

I read 10 different articles before I found “Good and Bad Procrastination” by Paul Graham. It was exactly what I needed to read. Instead of lumping all procrastinators into one category or several different personality types, Graham suggests that perhaps there are “three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, [he]’d argue, is good procrastination.” The article goes on to discuss the people in his life, who are achieving great things, tend to be type-C procrastinators. Those people focus on the BIG things and let the little things like errands and housecleaning fall lower on their “To Do” lists.

Obviously, to some people, fixing the car antenna is an important item on one’s “To Do” list. But for me, it’s gotten constantly pushed to the side by the need to complete BIG tasks like homeschooling my daughter or writing a novel. What the above article really made me realize is that I’m feeling guilty over not completing those things because of what other people prioritize as important.

I used to feel that way about housecleaning until I realized I don’t have to live in a really clean house to be happy. My laundry might pile up for a couple of weeks. The dust might be visible for a couple weeks before I get to it. But my dishes are done on a daily basis and my bathroom is cleaned once a week and dustbunnies are swept up when I see them. I’m not saying I don’t want to fix things as soon as they’re broken. I’m just saying I’m not going to allow myself to feel so much guilt when I don’t get to them straight away, or even six years later. (Note to self: this does not apply to major repairs, like my roof, which I will tackle as soon as financially possible.)

I won’t be remembered for making a speedy repair or keeping an immaculate house. I will be remembered for being a good mom and a passionate woman–those are my priorities; my BIG things. Yet I continue making progress on my neverending “To Do” list, and instinctively, I’ve focused on the important items all along, so I’m finished feeling guilty for not getting everything done up to this point. And I’m done with feeling guilty that I do procrastinate because nine times out of 10, I choose to work on something of more importance to me.

What’s important to me might not be important to everyone else, but when have I ever lived my life according to what other people thought I should be doing? Psst! The answer is “rarely” in case you don’t know me.

So ‘fess up!

In which areas of your life do you procrastinate?

Does your procrastination affect your life in a drastic way?

Does your procrastination weigh heavily on your conscience?

WEB RESOURCES:

Are you a writer who battles procrastination? Check out this handout on procrastination from The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/procrastination.html.

Are you a procrastinator? If you answered “yes,” The Mom Coach offers her analysis of the “8 different styles of procrastinators” at http://themomcoach.typepad.com/the_mom_coach/2009/07/are-you-a-procrastinator.html

Do you want a broad overview of procrastination? Wikipedia’s listing is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrastination


11 Comments

Briane · December 9, 2009 at 2:07 PM

I put off a lot of chores around the house — for the same reason you do: I can live with a little mess and want to spend time with Sweetie and the kids.

I procrastinate at work, too, by blogging or reading great blogs like yours.

Leah · December 9, 2009 at 4:40 PM

Thanks for confirming I’m not alone 🙂 And I really appreciate the compliment about my blog. I just visited your blog – Eclipse, is it more psychological or more horror? If you had to compare it to other novels of the genre, which one (or ones) would you select?

That’s one part of selecting books online I don’t like: you can’t hold the book, open it up and skim a few pages to decide if you want to purchase it.

If anyone else wants to check out Briane’s book, go to http://bit.ly/8DsStm

Briane · December 9, 2009 at 5:02 PM

I’d say it’s more psychological than horror; there are some scary scenes but it’s not what I think of when I say “horror novel.” No monsters, demons or vampires or the like.

I agree with you about buying books online; but you can check out the first chapter, on Scribd:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/14014212/Eclipse-Free-First-Chapter

Just to get an idea if you like it, of course. And you can get a chance to win the book for free, too, by commenting my blogs. See the box on Thinking The Lions http://www.thinkingthelions.com — it’s the one with the babies looking up.

    Leah · December 10, 2009 at 10:39 AM

    Thanks for the link to the first chapter and for the heads up on the contest. Take care!

lee · December 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM

I definately procrastinate. It could be part denial of wanting to deal with things or self-sabatoge or just being lazy. I’m trying to kick the habit though because I don’t want to be that way when it comes to nursing school, since it’s supposed to be super intense and time consuming. I have until August to get my shit together or I won’t just be screwing myself but wasting tons of money and time as well lol…Merry Christmas…BTW …. I just posted the 10th Sookie Stackhouse book cover on my blog, won’t be out til May though…& I’m facebook now too

    Leah · December 12, 2009 at 5:09 PM

    Hey Lee! Thanks for stopping by. I will definitely pop over to your blog to check out that cover ’cause I didn’t see it the last time I visited Charlaine’s web site. Merry Christmas to you, too, and a Happy New Year!

Laura Best · December 12, 2009 at 8:04 PM

Yes I’ll admit I tend to procrastinate. I find it sometimes difficult to get motivated but if I have a deadline I never miss it.

Leah when you said you will be remembered for being a good mom and a passionate woman, your words really stuck home.. I used to jokingly say that I very much doubted that any one who reached then end of their life looked back and said, “I’m so glad I kept a spotless house.”

PS. Sp nice to see a photo of you.

    Leah · December 13, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    And I think some people just forget that along the way. They get way too hung up on what others think about them or what they think they should do or how they should act. I make sure to constantly remind myself because it is so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life that I’ll lose site of my life’s purpose, goals and priorities. A mental kick in the butt gets me back on track.

    As for the photo, I figured it was okay for people to see the woman behind the posts. *grin* Thanks for stopping by to add your comment!

Tweets that mention Procrastination Is Like Masturbation… « Unleash the Flying Monkeys! -- Topsy.com · December 9, 2009 at 1:12 PM

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Happy 2010! « Unleash the Flying Monkeys! · January 8, 2010 at 9:46 PM

[…] 2010, identify the steps you need to take to get there, then act. I know some of us struggle with procrastination so get into the habit of […]

Update: Goals For 2010 – The First Two Weeks « Unleash the Flying Monkeys! · January 13, 2010 at 10:33 AM

[…] something popped into my head – something important – and I heard that little voice whisper, you can do it tomorrow, then I completed the task […]

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