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My Mid-Life Procrastination Attack

I never used to procrastinate. Never.

Okay, maybe sometimes. Like during tax season.

photo: John Morgan on flikr

But that was about it.

I used to take pity on the poor schmucks who would put things off. I felt sorry for them. I felt empathy for their plight. It must be hard, I thought, to have something hanging over your head. Like mistletoe.

photo: ishouldbefoldinglaundry on flikr

Actually, having mistletoe over your head isn’t bad at all. Unless you’re standing next to someone you don’t like. Then it’s a problem. A big problem. So that’s what I meant. Procrastination is like having mistletoe hanging over your head when you’re standing next to an Object Of Anti-Affection (OOAA).

Anyway.

Back to procrastination. (One might say that I’m procrastinating on getting to the subject. But I’m not. I’m digressing. There’s a difference. A big difference. I’d tell you about it now, but I don’t have time. I’ll tell you about it later.)

So. Where was I?

Oh yes. Procrastination. Let’s see . . . .

I never used to procrastinate. It wasn’t in me. My bones were not procrastinating bones. My blood was not procrastinating blood.

Not only that, I actually liked doing the things that other people put off.

Things like cleaning the house

photo: Julie G on flikr

and doing the laundry

photo: Horia Varlan on flikr

and taking out the garbage

photo: Natalie Maynor on flikr

and balancing my checkbook.

photo: adotmanda on flikr

Chores such as these gave me a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment of duty. It feels good to have a clean house and a balanced checkbook. What’s not to love about that?

And then. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you? I totally set you up for the “and then,” didn’t I? Plus there’s the title of this post, which implies that there will be some serious procrastination going in this blog. Given the attack of it, and all.)

Where was I? Oh yes. And then. . . .

And then, at age 39, I started writing fiction. The minute I began this new endeavor, everything changed. Suddenly, nothing was as interesting to me as writing. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I became I a Serious, Hard-Core Procrastinator (SHCP). 

(I’m not sure why I’m suddenly resorting to capitalization and initialisms in this post. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll get back to you on that.)

Gone was the perpetually-clean-and-tidy house. Gone was the always-emptied garbage can. Gone was the perfectly-fluffed-and-folded laundry.

And my checkbook? Before I started writing, I was the type of person who would balance my checkbook regularly. Every month. Once the fiction bug hit, I started “balancing” my accounts once a year, at best.

I give “balancing” the nifty quotes of air because when you only attempt such an act once a year, things aren’t exactly “balanced” when it’s over. At best, there is a crude approximation of balance that’s not really balance at all, but is instead a lumpy chaotic mess pretending to be a smooth sea of stability.

photo: Andy Carter on flikr

I wish I could tell you that this Sudden Attack Of Procrastination (SAOP) came to an end, and that I am no longer plagued by its effects. This, dear reader, is not the case. I am still an SHCP. (Do you remember what this means? If not, please scan back to resuscitate your memory. That’s okay. I’ll wait here.)

The reason for my current SHCP status is no longer the writing. Or, it’s not only the writing. It’s now other things too – like playing music

photo: Will Bakx

and walking in nature

photo: docent-joyce on flikr

and hanging out with my sweetheart

photo: Lisl Christie

and going to the movies.

photo: Joelk75 on flikr

My life seems to be on a trajectory, a trajectory of bliss. Somehow, each and every day, I become more and more inclined to only do those things that bring me joy. And the more this happens, the less inclined I am to do those things that do not animate my heart.

The good news is that my life is now richer and fuller as a result. The bad news is that some of the things I procrastinate about still need to get done.

By me.

The bad news that’s really good news (stick with me here) is that I almost always feel a sense of accomplishment when the things-that-have-to-get-done actually do get done. 

So it’s not like I don’t ultimately enjoy everything I do. It’s just for some of the things, I like to wait to experience the enjoyment.

Maybe that’s the reframe here: some things are just so special, I like to wait as long as possible so I can savor their specialness.

(Did you buy that? If not, wait a bit. It might take a while to really sink in.)

A lot of my other posts have had a moral, a lesson, a tidy answer to the dilemma I was facing. Not this one. I’m an SHCP. That’s the way it is. My procrastination habit seems to be a byproduct of my current life of bliss. And if that’s the case, it’s worth it.

So, for now, I am a blissed-out SHCP.

If anything changes, I’ll let you know.

Really.

I mean, I’m sure I’ll get around to it.

Eventually.

What do you procrastinate about? Tell me now!

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15 Responses to My Mid-Life Procrastination Attack

  1. Connie Phillippe October 11, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    Every week I procrastinate about telling you how much I enjoy your blogs, and then another week is past. But I do, I really do. Thank you, Connie

    • Z Egloff October 11, 2011 at 9:45 am #

      Fabulous! I’m so glad that you were able to get over that horrible procrastination habit. 😉

  2. Squirrel October 11, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    thanks, z. i’ll respond to this later. 😀

    • Jo Lauer October 11, 2011 at 9:08 am #

      I’m learning something about the art of procrastination from your blog. I’m a hopeless Virgo and have to REALLY work at procrastinating. I could have written this tomorrow, but NO, had to be done right now. See? Hopeless.

      • Z Egloff October 11, 2011 at 9:41 am #

        I have to say, I love that Virgo energy! Think of it this way: you’re procrastinating about learning to procrastinate. So you actually ARE procrastinating about something. Though that means that you’re not actually procrastinating about procrastinating. Wait, this is tricky. . . .

    • Z Egloff October 11, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks, Squirrel. I’ll be here. Waiting. . . .

      • squirrel October 11, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

        I love you, Z. You are so awesome. I, of course, know nothing about procrastination. 😉 I don’t procrastinate on laundry, homework, grocery shopping, organizing or getting gas. I just take my time in contemplating the things that need to get done and do them in perfect time. I know when it’s time to do these things when: I’m out of clean clothes, I have a paper due in the morning, I am out of food, I can’t find what I’m looking for and my gas light is on, respectively. Everything happens it its own perfect time, see?

        xos

        • Z Egloff October 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

          Wow. This adds a whole new perspective on the art of procrastination. Yes, I said “art.” Because you, my friend, have taken it to that level. 😉 Well done!

        • squirrel October 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

          Thank you, thank you, it’s a skill I’ve practiced over the years. 😉

  3. Cecilia October 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Ohh Z. I LOVE you. One of my favorite posts yet. I find that I procrastinate on most things, excluding 1) eating 2) Facebook 3) whatever art (photography, singing, songwriting) has decided to show up through me in that moment. In fact, I most often use those three things to delay whatever I actually need to do!

    • Z Egloff October 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Yessss. You understand! Aren’t art and eating the most important things anyway? Oh, and Facebook. I think you’ve got it covered. The Holy Trinity! Indeed. XOZ

  4. Alicia October 12, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    As a teacher of high school students, procrastination is something I try to preach and practice. The students teach me new tricks of how to procrastinate. I always show my students Ellen Degeneres’ procrastination monologue in Here and Now to add some laughs. If you are looking to doing something instead of some other things… then look up the monologue. One of my favorite lines: “Our attention span is shot. We’ve all got Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD or OCD or one of these disorders with three letters because we don’t have the time or patience to pronounce the entire disorder. That should be a disorder right there, TBD – Too Busy Disorder.”

  5. Z Egloff October 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    I love that you’re showing your students Ellen’s monologues! That’s so cool. I think I saw her do that particular monologue live. I’m not sure. I could go look it up, but I have TBD. 😉

  6. LaLaLaLaLa November 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    I was wondering why ‘My Mid-Life Procrastination’ was appearing twice in the headers of my home page. I thought those who see all were finally getting around to outing me. I am a great procrastinator, and I also love the thrill of working under pressure. My ideas float for a long time and then distill at the last minute. I do love to do the management of laundry, dishes, when I need the satisfaction as a therapeutic endeavor; ie ‘I did that perfectly’. I am glad I found this post. I am working on being much more organized, and I feel like life is working really hard at giving me too much to do. ‘Tomorrow is another day’ means it is time to stop the chores and enjoy…maybe a good book? Thanks for the perspective.

    • Z Egloff November 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      One thing I’m realizing about procrastination is that sometimes it’s truly not the right time to start a particular endeavor. So what seemed like procrastination ends up being waiting for right timing. Other times it’s really just procrastination. Oh, and it’s always a good time for a good book. Just sayin. . . XOZ

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