From next time to right now: the art of not procrastinating

Today seems a good day to practice what I’m about to preach. Well, maybe tomorrow would be better. After all, why borrow trouble?

Today seems a good day to practice what I’m about to preach. Well, maybe tomorrow would be better. After all, why borrow trouble?

The here-and-now is tough enough. Tomorrow, you’re my best friend.  So to prove a  point, I left this article until the very last minute, to see what would really happen. To sample procrastination.

At first it was pure bliss — there was no deadline! What’s more, I sensed (with my head in the clouds) that there really was no problem. But as time passed, I began to question the wisdom of my choice.

As an excuse, ‘tomorrow’ isn’t very creative. Anyone can weasel out of work. Am I really so stupid as to believe that deferring a job for a day or two will make it easier?

If I hadn’t put it off for so long, perhaps I could have penned this verse, but someone else did it while I dawdled, still hoping for an opportunity. “Procrastination is my sin — it brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact I will — tomorrow.” Thank you, Gloria Pitzer, for beating me to it.

But now I’m anxious — ‘mañana’ is coming, and the only benefit from slacking seems to be a free test of my nervous system. Funny how shunting stress to tomorrow has caused even more of it; I can now add high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, and hyperventilation to my problems.

Procrastinating is so easy — I love it! I love it no matter what it does (or doesn’t) do. It’s such a delicious indulgence! I can always plan a diet after a rich meal. It’s easy to think about my budget after some splurging; easy to plan time with my spouse — some other time.

And my favourite — I love making lists of all the things I need to do instead of doing them. No wonder procrastination hangs around.

Whether I’m lazy or not, it’s a happy moment when I can defer a duty  because I “need more research,” or some other high-and-mighty delusion. Sometimes the moment of truth never comes.  “Someday is not a day of the week,” says Janet Dailey.

I’m totally in love with the last-minute rush that makes me feel so alive! Who cares if I will spend the next 20 years justifying what didn’t get done? At least I will never have to deal with it today.

The big lie is that procrastination is temporary. It’s not — it’s forever. Moments fade into forever, and thoughts are forgotten. What we save for tomorrow unmasks our priorities today, and today’s activity determines who we become. Tomorrow’s dreams are a vapour; they remain sheer fantasy unless we bring them into the present. Thinking turned into doing.

There are a few things I probably could put off, however. Anger, revenge, and gossip, and their ilk.  I might well postpone them for a forever of tomorrows.  But not the column — I have put it off as long as possible. ‘Now’ is calling, and it will be gone when I get up tomorrow.

Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.


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