Procrastinator’s Lament

Did you know procrastination is a four letter word? Yep, it’s true. At least it is for those millions of us who have been stricken with this sickness for most of our lives. According to the professionals (aka those with the affliction), it is a genetic thing. Passed down through the ages from parent to child. In my case, it was a dual disaster – both parents had an abundant supply to share with their children. We’re talking world class, here, friends.

I grew up learning the best (read quickest) places to hide our accumulation of stuff from the time a visitor pulled up into the driveway to when they knocked on the door – the oven is handy for kitchen clutter (do not use the oven if they are staying for dinner); the washing machine can hold a massive amount number of items and the bedroom doors are never to be opened when guests are in the house.

Now, according to psychologists, procrastination is a result of perfectionism. Their theory is that because we want things to be perfect, we shy away from the idea of not making it so. Therefore, if we put things off and they don’t come out ‘perfectly’, we can always blame the fact that we didn’t have enough time. Sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Unfortunately, that has a tendency to roll over into my school life. Not that I’m not thinking about the assignment. No, I’m just cogitating on the best way to complete it. And it needs thought. Lots and lots of thought. And then it needs research on the computer. I’m good at research – there’s just so much good information out there. Therein lays the problem. I accumulate stuff on my computer like we used to accumulate stuff in my home. Which is a good thing up to a point, but then it all has to be perused for said school project which takes more time. Usually, I over research and the perusal takes much longer than anticipated. (Does any of this sound familiar to you guys? Oh, good, I’m not alone).

It always comes together in the end, even if it means I stay up until 4:30 am to make sure it does. Not a good way to live health-wise or life-wise. So, I’m going to attempt to help you and myself overcome the problem by setting down some rules:

  1. Realize that even if given plenty of time, the due date will arrive sooner than you can imagine.
  2. Start thinking/researching/working on it as soon as it is assigned.
  3. If necessary, use ‘bubble’ blocking to see what ideas fit together in a reasonable way.
  4. Narrow your topic to include only those ideas (helps to keep from being overwhelmed).
  5. Outline your choices, ideas, actions. You know, Roman numeral I, capital A, lower case ‘a’, regular 1, etc. (just remember that every item goes in pairs – A I needs a II, an A needs a B, an ‘a’ needs a ‘b’. Yes, I know we don’t like to do this, but I’ve found that if I do this, the project almost writes itself.
  6. Plan on completing said project at least a few days early and forget about it. This will give your subconscious a chance to figure out if you’ve said all you wanted/needed to say.
  7. Do the final edit the day before based on what your mind has come up with.
  8. Viola! A complete project without stress or excess adrenalin ruining your heart or other organs and a project you can be proud to own.

Now, how about we all join together and start up a self-help group to work on overcoming this pernicious dis-ease? I’ll get back to you on that….tomorrow.


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