Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nothing good ever comes of it…

The big P.

Putting It Off. Postponing. Procrastination.

I loved this habit, loved it so much I elevated to the status of demi-god in my life. I tithed to the library because I Put Off walking the books back on time. I sacrificed jobs because I Put Off filling out applications. But most important, I lost chances to talk to elderly relatives and show them that I cared, because I Put Off calling or writing a letter.

I had to break that old Pattern, so when I heard about an online course called Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors, I signed up right away.

Well, you know, not right away.

Psychologist and teacher Margie Lawson offers the course every January (it starts on January 4 in 2010) and since I took it a few years ago, my Productivity has notched higher and ever higher. I waste much less time sifting through Piles of Paperwork, for example, because I simply Process the darn stuff and Put It Away. I’ve also written more than ever, Piling Up essays and novels and blogs and articles of all sorts.

And then, as happens in all the best stories, I Plowed Into a Wall. It wasn’t a big wall. It wasn’t even real. I just didn’t want to write what came next in my novel. I didn’t want to write anything else, either.

Normally I’m so busy being Productive that I can go for months without noticing dirty windows and dusty tables (thanks, Margie) but last Monday, when I Paused, I noticed that my keyboard was grubby. So I wiped fingerprints off the letters and shook out leaves and freed small animals that had been trapped in its labyrinth. There was still some dust down between the keys, though, and since I didn’t feel like schlepping to the office supply store the week before Christmas for a can o’ air, I retrieved my blowdryer from the bathroom, Plugged it in and happily released colonies of dust mites to rampage through my office.

I got even more cheerful when I realized that the screen over the air intake on the dryer was clogged with lint! How great is that! I scurried back to the bathroom to scrape it clear and the old brush I used was Perfect for the task and then, of course, I had to wash that.

The day just got better and better.

Then, since I was in the bathroom anyway, I decided I might as well have a shower, so I did and afterward I turned on that handy-dandy blowdryer to do its regular daytime job. An orange glare reflected in the mirror.

Odd, I thought, and peered into the maw of the small appliance, where a coil glowed like lava creeping toward the sea.

A highpitched hum and the smell of frying metal joined the Panoply of sensory details and I quickly Pulled the Plug.

I try to tell myself that it was coincidence, but deep inside I know that forcing the old hairdryer to deal with such an unaccustomed flood of air through its little engine is what killed it. If I’d left the lint intact, I wouldn’t have had to schlep to the shopping centre to buy a new one right before Christmas.

Which all goes to prove my point: Procrastination does not Pay.


  1. I loved this blog, and have a really silly smile on my face, actually it's better described as an I-know-exactly-how-you-feel-smile and I think I'm a youcanforgitaboutfinxinme - kind of addict. It makes me wayyy too happy to finally skid to the finish line ten minutes before deadline - must be a flaw in the brain matter!!!
    Opps gotta go and decorate the's coming in an hour!!

  2. LOL, Mimi!

    I think we procrastinators like the adrenaline rush of skidding in to the finish line – or trying to get the house clean ten minutes before guests arrive!

  3. Your post made me smile Rachel. The 'trying' to clean the dust off the keys! Yes, Yes.
    Today, I thought I was doomed, my brand new day planner for 2010 had an enormous sticker on the cover that took me 45 minutes to remove.
    Arrggh! I wanted to march right back to the store and demand a refund. So much for easing on into the New Year.
    Thanks for your Margie Lawson tips.

  4. I've a simple solution, Rachel. Between Christmas and New Year's I give myself permission to be unProductive. Funny thing is, I usually end up doing a ton of sorting and cleaning in all that free time so when jan.2 rolls around, I'm ready to go:)

  5. Jodie, I laughed out loud at your spending 45 minutes on that darned sticker! Taking the day planner back to the store would have killed even more time! You might be taking my Procrastination Princess title away from me.

    Alice, I wonder what it is that makes us be Productive when we've said it's okay not to be. Are we Procrastinating the unProductivity?
    I'm sure there's a very logical reason and next time I get stuck on my novel, I'll be sure to check into it.

  6. Your posts always give me a laugh. I'm procrastinating right now as I read it.