Procrastination Isn’t All Bad

I’ve put off writing this post as long as I can.(1)

The truth is, I’ve been a procrastinator all my life. The number of library books I’ve returned past their due date adds up to quite a sum in fines. I always tell myself that this isn’t a character flaw, it’s just a way of supporting the library with my funds as well as with my votes.(2)

The one thing that I haven’t been able to procrastinate about is worrying. As soon as worry niggles its way into my mind, there it is, taking up residence, and threatening to stay for the duration.

However, the reason that I say procrastination can be good is that, if you wait long enough, whatever it is you’re putting off may just go away.

Once my husband and I were vacationing in Boca Raton. There was going to be a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, on the other coast, on the day we were supposed to leave. Dan very much wanted to see the launch. I would have liked to as well, but I thought it would make our drive home to Ohio one of crazed madness, driving too far too fast, and not enjoying anything. We would arrive home stressed, exhausted, and angry.(3)

So we postponed having the fight. There were still a few days before the launch and there was a telephone number to call for updates. Every day Dan called and every day they reported whether it was still on schedule or on hold. Many of the days we called it was on hold. Eventually it got to the point where there was no way we could stay for the launch, make it over to the other coast of Florida, and still have enough time to get back to Ohio before we had to go to work.

The point is that at that time neither one of us could be angry about it. Dan missed seeing launch, but not because I was being a bitch about it. I got my long, leisurely drive back home without Dan being a resentful Mr. CrankyPants. In that case, procrastination may have saved our marriage.(4)

Here’s another example of procrastination as a marriage-saver. It’s in my nature put off large purchases by shopping around. Dan is more of the “see-what-you-want-and-buy-it” type of consumer. When we need a major appliance I procrastinate by comparing models, prices, ease of service, delivery charges, and so on. Then when I go out of town for any reason, Dan simply buys the appliance he likes best while I’m away.(5)

Useful as I find it, I am trying to break – or at least lessen – my habit of procrastination. That’s one reason I’m lying here in bed, beset by two kinds of antibiotics plus probiotics, allergy pills, antihistamine pills, and all the usual meds I take just to get through daily life. I have promised myself that I will post on my blogs every week on Sundays. To do that and do it well (or reasonably) I need to start writing by Wednesday at the latest.(6)

Fortunately my Samsung Galaxy Android tablet allows me to dictate. Then when I feel better I can go downstairs to the real computer and edit. Hemingway is said to have advised writing drunk and editing sober. I suppose writing while medicated and editing while recovering is at least close to the spirit.

Defeating procrastination is a question of whether you have power over it or it has power over you. With me, I guess it’s about six of one and half dozen of the other, or a little more on the procrastinating side. But I don’t have time to worry about that now. I’ll get to it later.


(1) See what I did there?

(2) It’s less easy to explain away how I managed to procrastinate on filing my taxes. I’m pretty sure that my next investment will have to be a tax attorney. When I get around to looking one up online.

(3) At least I would have. Dan would have skipped the angry part, since he would have gotten his way.

(4) I won’t say I’m recommending procrastination for everyone, all the time. I’m just noting that it has its uses.

(5) That’s also how he ended up with a pet hedgehog, which I suppose is better than a major appliance, though definitely not as useful.

(6) In high school and college I could put off writing like a champ. It was seldom that I ever wrote a paper more than a day before it was due. And I got away with it. Now I can’t – or at least don’t – do that anymore. Either I’ve gotten worse at procrastinating, worse at lying to myself, or better at realizing that my work needs more work. Whatever the reason, I definitely procrastinate less, when it comes to writing.


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