Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I am a selective procrastinator and have been my entire life. By selective I mean there are certain situations I handle expeditiously and others that I put off until the last possible minute. I have some theories about why I often procrastinate but I'm not prepared to bare my psychological soul on this forum at this time. 

Why am I bringing this up? Well it's because I finally completed something that I have been putting off for a couple of months. It wasn't life or death, but was becoming more critical that the task be taken care of. As usual, the completion of the task was a relief. I feel better now that it's done. Despite that good feeling, I'm pretty sure I'll procrastinate again.

I'm not sure when this behavior began, but I think it was early in my life. I hardly ever did long term school assignments until the last minute. I would do each day's homework (usually) on schedule but if I had an assignment due in a month I'd wait about 28 days to get started. I usually pulled it off.

The other contributing factor is that very often the assignment was either delayed, the requirements changed or completely cancelled. I guess I figured that out early in life. While cancellation didn't happen too often in school, it was a regular occurrence during my business career. 

Procrastination is normal behavior in school. Hardly anyone starts a long term assignment near the day it is assigned. The same is also pretty much true in business but there are a few more early starters. There are also not quite as many last minute starters. I remained a last minute holdout. This too had positive and negative consequences. While I often got out of doing unnecessary work, I also incurred the wrath of my peers who had already completed the assignment only to find it cancelled, modified or the deadline extended. Family members would get upset with me too about putting off family matters.

A short anecdote. A director I once worked for gave all his direct report managers (I think there were five or six of us) a written report assignment with a specific deadline date. It was BS busy work so as usual I kept putting it off. A few days before the deadline, the boss had a change in schedule and would be out of town on the assignment deadline date. As usual, he appointed one of us to be the acting director in his absence. He rotated those duties but it was not my turn to be in charge. Instead it was the most anal, least imaginative, least technical, least competent and least liked manager's turn. Despite the fact that the boss would be out of town on the deadline date and for a few additional days, this anal, pretend in charge person told us that all the reports were due at the original deadline. As is my want when a fake pompas ass tells me something, I ignore it. I never did turn in the "assignment" and it was never asked for. The director had new fires and priorities after his trip.

Now don't get me wrong. If it was really an important task or project or one that actually required advance work, I would do it. I participated in and/or led several large projects that took between six months to a year or more to plan and complete. I jumped on those and worked whatever hours were required. 

I don't have many long term projects now but there are still things that need to be done. Some are important and the deadline is not negotiable. The rent or mortgage and electric bills need to be paid on a specific date. Miss a couple and you'll be sitting in the dark or on the curb. Others are more flexible like doing the laundry or planting the spring flowers. A day or two or even a week delay won't be a disaster. Unless you are out of clean underwear. 
 So, are you a never put off till tomorrow what you can do today person or a never do today what you can put off till tomorrow (or next week) procrastinator?  There's no right answer, it's whatever works for you. 

This post was originally scheduled for early March but... Well, you know, stuff happens.


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