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40 T/D/Y #1: Procrastination

I was born on time as predicted, December 31, 40 years ago. I've put everything off until the last minute ever since.

If you've visited my LiveJournal before, you've seen that it's subtitled "We Put the 'Pro' in 'Procrastination'." This is of course a joke at my own expense, but nonetheless there's a lot of truth to it. I must have a well-developed sense of timing for getting things done, because it's rare that I'm actually late in accomplishing a task, but it's also rare that I start something right away, let alone finish it in advance. Often there's something I'd rather be doing. Or maybe some other task that I feel should be done first, to get it out of the way so I can focus on the important one. Or prior plans that I figure I can still fit in before the task. Or I just don't want to face up to something tedious or unpleasant or anxiety-causing and I simply avoid it as long as possible.

This holds true even for projects I conceive of on my own and want to do, spend time thinking about doing. For example, this very series of posts. I am starting it on time as planned, Sunday November 21. But I'm starting late in the evening because I had chores and work to do first, and then I spent time chatting with a friend—a good, worthwhile chat that I'm glad we had and do not regret the time spent, but nonetheless a factor that has pushed this writing task later in the evening. And this writing task is now pushing off the work I still have to do. Furthermore, although I knew it would be best to have a complete list of 40 topics before I began, and wanted to post such a list in advance, I ended up not getting around to writing such a list (though I did solicit topics and have been thinking of more, so I'm not at a total loss).

For Halloween this year I went to a friend's party with a Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog theme, which meant dressing as a supervillain whether based in existing fiction (or fact!) or made-up. Ever since becoming old enough to be responsible for making my own costume, I've never much liked doing so: on the one hand, I want to do it right and look good or else not bother, on the other I don't have costuming skills and don't want to spend the time (or money) to make a good one. However, I happen to have a lab coat, so I knew I could do some kind of cheap mad scientist look, and spent the afternoon vaguely thinking about what I'd do. About an hour before it was time to leave for the party, I was thinking about my villain identity, and the name "Professor Procrastination" occurred to me as something that would fit well with the goofiness of Dr. Horrible. I realized that "Professor" necessitated a slight change in look, so instead of the lab coat I ended up wearing a sport jacket (which happened to be black—that's villainous, right?), nice shirt/trousers/shoes, and a bow tie. Any questions about my credentials or abilities as a supervillain were met with excuses along the line of "well, I've been working on that, I haven't quite got it done yet..." It actually went over quite well, people got the joke and were amused, plus I got to deliver an evil laugh and take credit a few times when someone else innocently mentioned they hadn't got around to doing something. If I hadn't come up with the idea at the last minute, I might have made a "procrastination ray" gun, but, you know... I'll get to that later.

That's about an hour's writing, and 630 words or so. My vague plan is to spend no more than an hour a day on this and to aim for 500 words, so that's a good start.



( 3 have written — Write )
Nov. 24th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
from http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-Procrastinate-Like-L/26491/
"If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the life of Leonardo, it is that procrastination reveals the things at which we are most gifted — the things we truly want to do. Procrastination is a calling away from something that we do against our desires toward something that we do for pleasure, in that joyful state of self-forgetful inspiration that we call genius."


<3 a
Nov. 25th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
Good thing you quoted the first article, because it's locked behind a subscription wall (which I'm sure you knew). I have a slight issue with that quote, which is that there are plenty of things we need to get done—generally for reasons involving supporting ourselves—that we don't really want to do; procrastinating in that case doesn't really help.

The second article is great! And I'm totally linking to it on Facebook. Thanks!
Oct. 14th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC)
Hey Phil, I really enjoyed reading this first posting and am looking forward to reading the next 39. I love your quirky sense of humor ( no bias here)and your story about the Halloween party and your disguise as Professor Procrastination made me laugh. Of course, I have to admit that it's in the "Calvin Klein's"...you are my son and I too am a "PRO-crastinator. I never could get myself to start writing my research paper any sooner than the night before the due date! Keep writing...you're good at it. Mom
( 3 have written — Write )

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