Friday, March 04, 2005

The Art of Procastination

Taking ones time to do something can be construed in several different ways: they are slow, meticulous, lazy, thoughtful, bored, anal retentive, or doesn't give a damn. But for some, procrastination is not one of the seven deadly sins but rather an art form--that must be mastered. It takes skill to be a talented procrastinator. You must become an illusionist, able to create the illusion that you are actually busy, when in fact you are doing nothing of consequence! You must become eloquent in the gift of gab, able to razzle dazzle bosses, husbands, friends and acquaintances that you have "it" all under control, "everything" will be taken care of, "not to worry," you add as you return to surfing the net, watching tv, shuffling papers from one side of your desk to the next, thinking about lunch or if you remembered to leave enough food for the cat. Ho-hum.

You must become an actor or actress able to display the appropriate expression at the drop of a hat: "You didn't get it?" (frown of concern); "Oh absolutely!" (delight); "Yes, I have everything I need to get it finished." (determined professional face).

I will at this point confess, I am a master procrastinator. I have worked extremely hard at determining the exact point in time when I can no longer stall for another second. I have analyzed just how much time I can get away with in delivering a manuscript, turning in projects at work, paying bills .. the list is long. And I must admit, my explanations are nothing short of brilliant.

They say some folks simply work best under pressure. I guess that must be my face in the dictionary, next to "works best under pressure."

But the art of procastination is not without its downfalls. The anxiety level is not for the weak of heart and spirit-- when you wake up and suddenly realize that the six month lead time you had has dwindled down to three days!! The report that needs to be turned in to the director is due at the ten o'clock meeting... the light company is at the door to flick the switch...and there is an ugly notice in the mail...something about cancelling your car insurance!!

To the true procastinator these are all minor glitches, more like rushes of adrenaline, the fuel that is needed to jump start them into action. Somehow, magically the master procrastinator gets the manuscript done, knocks out a dynamite report to the director, uses the gift of gab to hold off the light company and takes a walk into the insurance company office during lunch and straightens the whole mess out--and makes a new friend in the process!

With crisis abated, the heart rate returns to normal levels and the procrastinator, proud of their accomplishments, swears they will not get themselves into that predicament ever again. "I swear." They set up to do lists, email reminders, sticky notes, buddy systems--anything to help keep them in line even as they go back to surfing the web, shuffling papers and working really hard at looking busy.

Procrastination to the master procrastinator is like a mountain climber's deepest desire to reach the top, a daredevil's dream to parachute out of a plane, to race a car at 200mph. It's the rush, the excitment, the need to know "can I do it, can I beat the odds and the clock?" So just as the climber, the jumper, the racecar driver all have that inexplicable urge... so too does the master procrastinator--the need to achieve at breakneck speed, against all odds.

Of course the rush dissipates and most procrastinators lull themselves back into a semi-stupor, whistling their way through their days until they hear the inevitable tick-tock of the deadline clock ---the pulse begins to race, the head and heart pound, cuss words spew from lips, fingers and feet move furiously toward the goal...once again. Aaahh, what a life!

Don't try this at home!!


Holly said...

Greetings from a fellow master.

Yvette said...

We must have met somewhere before. Put so eloquently.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to describe me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to describe me.

Roger said...

Hi! Procastination is killing me really softly, I cannot get anything done, I am a really messy guy... why we don't trust ourselves from the very first moment? Why we have to do it at the end? Somehow somebody is stealing our time, ourselves... and I love to just surf in the park, just walk while everything goes on... was Bukowsky a procastinator? drink beer do nothing, but at the same time I am supposed to do something... then I realise that I hate everybody, including myself... just everything keeps going and I feel like I am on the side... nothing goes with me... May be is the fact that everybody knows the end, at least I know the END, and I keep bringing my girlsfriends to the cemetery and I don't understand why they run away... but it is ok... but it is not... I would like to be with me, to be with myself... but I get abandoned... my spirit left my body a while ago, and I feel like a living dead... even this is contradiction, just making a point from the beginning to the end... like a shooting star, like a wave goes to rest into the sand in the beach and draws attention to the star fish and some dirt that some left there... landscape... horizon... on the side like cold french fries... thanks for showing another portrait of wasting time and the best of the shoots in the vein, adrenaline.

Jonny (b) said...

Best ever description of the art form. Certainly made this current bout of procastination more interesting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Ese soy yo, aca estoy, maƱana tengo un examen trascendental y no puedo dejar de hacer nada!!!

La pregunta es, esto es bueno, o malo, por cierto, en momentos es una tortura. Es esto una enfermedad???

Esto quiere decir que somos mas inteligentes o mas tontos.

Muy rara vez esto hace que no cumpla un plazo, por lo general los cumplo y casi siempre con resultados aceptables a muy buenos!!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Are yo talking about me?. It´s good to know I´m not the only one who feels and does all this things.

Tsega said...

in this current bout of procastination in progress - i read your article and its eloquence and experienced a grip of self discontentment. then i found that it is more about 'a profound problem of self-regulation' than anything else. i hope i could unlearn it!

Chathans said...

Wow, that's exactly me, i like the way u put it. greetings may be we should have our own network like procastination anonymous or some thing like that