This little rhyme has been a mantra of sorts for me. I did not choose it deliberately. It's more like it chose me, subconsciously and by default.
This affliction called procrastination has caught me by surprise in many situations and events during my life, and I know many others also have suffered silently. It's time at last to bring the disorder into the light and discuss it without fear of ridicule or shame.
According to Webster, procrastinate (v.) means to put off doing something until a future time; to postpone or delay needlessly. Procrastinators do not necessarily avoid responsibility habitually, and they are not inherently lazy. They may function quite normally the majority of the time. They have simply chosen under certain circumstances to put off until tomorrow what could be done today.
Procrastination is brought on a wide variety of situations, depending upon the afflicted individual. For me, procrastination used to rear its ugly head while I studied for an exam. Thankfully I managed to get through school successfully and have little occasion to prepare for tests anymore. These days it's more likely to occur during a nasty case of writer's block or income tax season.
Symptoms vary greatly from person to person. In my case they include sudden dishwashing, vacuuming, dusting and other housework-related activities. Don't get me wrong; I do these chores routinely as needed. But a good case of procrastination can send me into a cleaning frenzy that is abnormal, but actually quite desirable at least a couple of times a year.
A sporadic attack of organization is another common symptom in my case. It's closely related to the cleaning binge, but focuses more on straightening clutter than actual cleaning. Occasionally, in severe cases, it can lead to actual thinning out of junk quite uncharacteristic in my pack rat nature, but it usually is limited to random and abrupt onset of trinket tidying, silverware straightening and closet coordination. For those unfamiliar with this symptom, closet coordinating for me means from left to right, jeans, casual pants and dress pants followed by dress shirts, casual tops, sweatshirts and sweaters with each category of clothing lined up rainbow-style from pastels to dark colors.
Because of the hours Tom and I keep, I'm not known for excessive meal planning and creative cooking. One or both of us frequently turns up at the house sometime after 7:30 p.m. That's usually when it occurs to me to pull some meat-type product out of the freezer. If I'm fairly pulled together, two plates of spaghetti might materialize after 30-40 minutes.
During fits of procrastination, however, an unfounded urge to cook a full and well balanced meal may develop. Sometimes this progresses into a spell of attempting to produce baked goods such as cookies or brownies. Our oven is currently on the fritz, however, so that's not likely to happen anytime soon.
Not-quite-life-threatening cases of procrastination have included irrational and uncharacteristic urges to exercise as a symptom. This includes, but is not limited to, sudden outbreaks of videotape accompanied aerobics, jumping jacks and even jogging in place.
Now, was it time to work on my column or start on taxes? There must be something that needs tidying in the laundry room or the garage.
(Diane McCormack is a correspondent for The Brainerd Dispatch and a freelance writer living in north central Minnesota. Send comments or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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