Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Don't Do Today What You Can Do Tomorrow?

Just the other day I had a conversation with a friend who shared how he was browsing in a book store and found a book that would help him overcome his habit of procrastination. He told me that he did not buy it, but said to himself, "I'll pick it up tomorrow."

This made me think of that little-known rule of house repairs, "If you can live with it for 30 days, you can live with it forever." I recently was reminded of that when I was inspecting the house before a dinner party, and my wife commented how I needed to change the light bulb above the kitchen table. I was struggling to remember why I had to change the bulb since we just had dinner and I could see my food perfectly fine. Then I glanced at the light fixture, a fan with five bulbs -- four of them burned out. I replaced the four bulbs and noticed I should also wash the windows. I washed the windows and saw I needed to cut the grass. I cut the grass and then needed to trim. You get the picture. I should have turned off the light fixture, lit some mood candles and called it "ambiance."

Yes, I, too, procrastinate. But then again I can always start getting things down tomorrow.

Now, lest you get the wrong idea, if I have a headlight out, I'll get it fixed before I get a ticket, and if the sink backs up, I'll fix it in a reasonable amount of time -- saving me the time it takes to walk to use another sink. But, for me anyway, the more unpleasant the task, the longer I put it off. Sometimes my reasons for delaying the inevitable are creative: perhaps the president will contact me for an important spy mission overseas so that, naturally, my boss will understand if my report is late. I guess that's one holdover from grade school and growing up with snow days -- a pleasant reminder that once in awhile it pays not to study for the test.

As we enter a new year it seems this is as good a time as any to stop procrastination. Part of the benefit of doing now what can be done now is that when an unexpected snow day does come your way, you can use the unexpected gift of time for you personally - - i.e. reading, goofing off or just taking a guilt-free nap.

Doing little things periodically avoids having to face large tasks all at once. We all know if we put our tools back immediately after we use them, we can save lots of time and frustration not looking for them when we need them next. Being an unprocrastinator gives us more time and energy, as well as a faster tax refund!

So, I think I will put off procrastination and organize my tax receipts now -- just as soon as I find them.

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