Do you have any idea how long I’ve been meaning to write this blog post? This post specifically, two days at least. Just any old post to fill this spot on my schedule…weeks. But I happen to have several reasons of varying legitimacy for the delay.
First Things First. “But you’re a writer!” calls… hey, Milt! Good to see you again, oh voice of The People! “Yeah, yeah, it’s great to be back. But shouldn’t writing be pretty high on your priorities list? – since it’s, y’know, what you do? Your passion, and all?”
True enough. It’s good policy for us writers to throw some words together every day, if for no other reason than to keep in practice and stay as sane as we’re ever gonna be. But even within word-throwing, one has to prioritize. It’s not just blog pieces I’ve got to write, you know. There are e-mails and Facebook statuses; comments on other people’s blogs; not to mention inconsequential little projects like novels (and short stories)! And in the interests of being timely, some of these things should be given attention before others. So yeah, blog post for a month-and-a-half from now – you can wait while I work on this thing with a more immediate deadline.
It’ll Only Take a Minute. And, okay, so many of those e-mails can technically be read and replied to later; that blog I follow will still be there tomorrow; Facebook wouldn’t miss me anyway. But I’ve meaning to do those things since this morning/yesterday/a week ago, and never got around to it because other things had to be done first. Anyway, these are teeny, no-time-at-all kinds of tasks. I can knock out half-a-dozen of ‘em in two shakes of a lamb’s tail and feel like a boss for accomplishing so much. So I’ll just get this out of the way, real quick, and right after that…
It Never Takes Only a Minute. Seriously. It’s like a Murphy’s law thing. The dog will dawdle in the yard like he’s never seen such fascinating grass before, and he’ll refuse to come inside until after you’ve chased him up and down the driveway twice, and then you’ll knock over the bag of pretzels while trying to get the crazy canine a treat (as if he’s earned it!), so you’ll have to pick up that mess and then wash your hands of salt and dirt and dogginess, but wouldn’t you know it, the dispenser’s out of soap, so you have to dig through the pantry to find the refill jug, and you find that there’s only barely enough left, so you’d better add “hand soap” to the shopping list while you’re thinking of it, but that will first require that you find a sharpened pencil…
Well, Shoot, Now I’m Too Tired! Thanks a lot, Murphy and dog. That half-an-hour’s worth of minutes has left me drained of energy and inspiration.
“So now you’re just being lazy,” Milt accuses.
Sometimes, yes. Excuses aside, there will be occasions where the underlying reason nothing is getting done is plain old slothfulness. (Seven deadly sins series, much? First envy, now sloth… Maybe I’ll throw in some wrath during the next post; stay tuned.) No surprise, really, given what “procrastinate” means – “to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.”
But did you catch that other key word in the definition? Habitual.
How do you know when procrastination has become a habit, and not merely a way of suspending what you don’t want to do? When you continually find yourself putting off things that you actually do want to do. “Ooh, boy, I can’t wait to get to the next chapter of this great book! But I think I’ll needlessly check my e-mail first…” Um, why? There’s nothing standing between me and doing what I want except… me. Me and my habit of doing things later, after this, just as soon as I’ve dot-dot-dot.
I’m thinking it’s about time I segued into the habit of doing stuff now.
“Starting with going to bed on time tonight?” Milt inquires.
Um… maybe something else first.