I don’t think of myself as a procrastinator.
Still, when I am confronted by a sink full of dirty dishes, or an aging pile of unfolded laundry, or with fact that there is no toilet paper in the house, I realize that “procrastinator” is probably the best job title for me. At some point, maybe tomorrow, I will come up with a better description for what I do all day.
Still, I remind myself, there is no shame in procrastinating. Everybody does it.
It’s just that it is such an ugly word.
pro-CRAS-tin-NAY-shun. Sounds like an underwear stain. Or something that should be banned by the Catholic church.
But as I put off doing something productive to contemplate this, I realize that it is not just the ugly phonetics that keep me from embracing the term
It doesn’t feel like it applies to me because embedded in the concept of procrastination is this idea that despite all the lollygagging and delay, in the end something actually gets accomplished. The image of a true procrastinator is of someone who puts things off until the last possible moment and then after a fit of concentrated effort and a few cups of coffee–voila!–he creates a masterwork!
There is this sense of, “I don’t know how but, eventually, he pulled it off!” to the procrastinator label. A positive connotation. And the more I think about it, a subtly male connotation.
Nope. I can’t be a procrastinator. Because even though I regularly exert a lot of effort and drink many cups of coffee, unlike my male counterparts, I never actually get anything done. And I wonder, why is that? There was a time when I accomplished things. I am sure of it.
I have tried to figure this out before. But, as interested as I was in the outcome of the analysis, I have never gotten around to finishing it.
The time is NOW.
We can do it!
Ok. I have a plan.
Step one: Make a list of all the things you have to do
Step two: Triage and prioritize the list
Step three: Do something!
This looks like a very good plan. However, taking into consideration that the plan must be implemented while coordinating the care of two small children and the unpredictably present spouse I realize that a few preliminary pre-conditions must be met prior to implementing the plan.
PRE-CONDITIONS TO BE SATISFIED PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN Precondition 1: Find at least 20 free minutes
And “free” means uninterrupted and without being pestered. (e.g., children and husband are sleeping, or both children are engrossed in an episode of SpongeBob and husband is at work and neither child is arguing about who gets to sit where on the couch and no one has spilled anything even though they are each eating a popsicle and during this time I receive no calls from the Police Athletic League, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation or my mother-in-law).
In other words, precondition 1 is not likely to be met during the waking hours.
Then it hits you. You happen to be suffering from a bout of insomnia. It is 4 am and you have just spent an hour watching a weight loss infomercial and you realize…Precondition 1 has been met! This is the moment when the plan can be implemented!! You get ready to make that list and then you realize that another precondition must be met before the magical to do list can be drafted.
Precondition 2: Find a pen.
I go to the kitchen and look in the pen mug. There is no pen. (this is the same mug where I never find scissors). My search yeilds a few dried out highlighters a pair of chopsticks and an emery board.
I look in my purse. I do not find a pen. I do find:
- A pink Crayola marker (dried out)
- 2 glue sticks
- A pair of tinkerbell safety scissors (that were supposed to be in the pen mug)
After several minutes of digging, I wonder how I spent so much of this precious alone time engaged in the enterprise of not finding a pen. How have I been reduced to this? I comfort myself, noting that at least I am no longer watching the infomercial. I am more resolved than ever to implement THE PLAN!
I dump my purse upside down, ala Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club.
- An annoying tangle of headphones, phone chargers, plastic beaded necklaces
- A Beauty and The Beast themed hairbrush
- Half a dozen crayons of varying length
- A colored pencil with a broken tip.
- A worksheet with a list of words that I am supposed to be teaching my five year old to read.
- The french novel that I am not reading
- A kindle that I have not charged (and whose charger is not contained in the above referenced tangle of chargers) that contains several books that I am also not reading
- My wallet
- My keys
- One butterfly hairclip
- One Jack-o-lantern hairclip
- A hairclip with a pony on it
- An almost empty tube of sunscreen
- A lollipop that is also a flashlight
- A lot of pennies
- Several receipts from dunkin‘ donuts
- One half to two thirds of an unwrapped granola bar
- And three to four teaspoons of dirt
I notice that much of the above contents is tinged with blue ink, which is now rubbing off on my hands. These stains offer compelling proof that a ball point pen must have exploded in the vicinity and in the not too distant past. Still, as I sift through the pile, resisting the urge to eat the (only slightly blue) granola bar, I finally resign myself to the reality that despite my resolve and effort, I will not be finding a pen today.
I am determined.
I grab a half crayon piece. I am making that to do list and today I am going to do something!
In defiant, perriwinkle letters, I start writing my list.
NUMBER 1: Clean out purse
Before I get to writing “NUMBER 2” and as I see the nighttime sky dissolving into white outside my living room, I hear a distinctive wail from the kids’ bedroom.
And I realize that the plan would be put off again until tomorrow.