Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What, Me Procrastinate?

The time has come to confess my sins. Lacking any religious outlet for confession, I will let this blog (hence you, gentle reader) serve as my confessor:

I am -- gulp -- a procrastinator.

Yes, I know -- this doesn't fit with the glossy, shining, upright image you all have of me, but what can I say? Old habits are hard to break. And the fact is, sometimes I really like procrastinating, and I even feel that -- in a weird way -- it actually makes me more productive, not less. Why? Because knowing I have to do something creates so much anxiety and inner turmoil that I will do practically anything to avoid doing it -- including things I don't normally enjoy doing! So, as long as I keep shifting the focus of what I'm procrastinating about, I can manage to get just about everything done (well, almost. There are certain things I've been procrastinating about for my entire life and I still don't seem to be able to get around to doing them. Like reading the "Great Books" series, for instance, or having my own talk show. But all in good time, my pretties, all in good time...)

Deadlines are one of the best ways to get my procrastination skills into high gear. Give me a deadline and I will give you a very, very organized kitchen cabinet. But a deadline is not the only way. Often it will simply be some self-assigned task -- say, to write my blog or update my website -- that will make other tasks suddenly look enormously appealing. Like, I haven't EVER polished my shoes, but suddenly I cannot wait another second to do so. Or all those wrinkled, frumpy clothes I usually wear without compunction (or even regular cleaning)? Well, suddenly I need to see those old rags starched and pressed and tailored RIGHT NOW or I CAN'T LEAVE THE HOUSE.

Among the many procrastination activities I keep handy for emergencies, these are some of my favorites, with their approximate lengths (not in any particular order, although putting them in order could also be a highly satisfying procrastination activity). Feel free to use as many as you see fit -- though I'm sure some will be familiar to you!

1. Folding and sorting through all of my clothes and making piles to give away to friends or charity (1 hour)

2. Brushing and flossing my teeth much more thoroughly than I normally do, rinsing my mouth with salt water, inspecting my gums, weighing the pros and cons of making a dental appointment but finally choosing to procrastinate on that task a bit longer, swearing to stick to a better dental hygiene schedule from now on (20-30 minutes)

3. Cleaning out my desk drawers and re-uniting loose paper clips, staples, rubber bands, and postage stamps (45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how many drawers I choose to clean, and if i decide to do some random filing and correspondance during this activity, and if, at the bottom of one of the drawers, I find some tiny ceramic ornament that one of my younger siblings made for me in kindergarten, in which case I need to cry for a while or toss off a quick poem or a song or otherwise spend a good amount of time mourning the passage of time and missing people I've loved, and mainly wondering where the hell am I going to display a lumpy bright green angel with glittered wings -- i hate glitter -- and thinking for a while about how love overrules aesthetics, but not always, as witnessed by the fact that I end up throwing said ornament in the trash)

4. Making lists like this one (1 minute to eternity -- the possibilities are endless! and in fact, you guessed it -- while I'm writing this list I am most certainly procrastinating - on a deadline for a painting)

5. Reading the news so that I can have some tidbits to share in the next charged political discussion (5 minutes to 2 hours. This is one of my least satisfying procrastination activities, as my understanding of politics seems to get worse the more I read, and I am constantly reminded of how little I know about practically every country involved in major strife today -- meaning that "reading up on history and politics and world affairs" becomes a task which I assign myself and which I will most surely procrastinate about in the months to come...)

6. Rehearsing and planning for my talk show, including coming up with a title (Caroline Fait la Cuisine was one of my fav's), planning the decor and making a guest list (OK, I don't do this one so much anymore...but it can be quite stimulating if you've never tried it). Alternate activity: Rehearsing what to say on someone else's talk show, OR, what to say if I meet someone famous but not too famous, who I really like and with whom I feel I have a natural affinity -- for instance, Matthew Modine (of course, this kind of harmless daydreaming lost some of its luster after I saw King of Comedy for the 40th time)

7. Eating cookies (preferably with chocolate as the main ingredient) while standing and staring anxiously at a painting I'm afraid to go back into (1 minute - 20 minutes, with guilt-ridden pauses in between. Basically, as many cookies as it takes to get my courage up to start painting again -- amount is also determined by whether or not I've eaten a macrobiotic meal for lunch)

8. Writing this blog! (unless, of course, I've been feeling like I "have" to write my blog, in which case -- as in the past few weeks -- I will do everything to avoid it, until it reaches a boiling point when I can stand it no longer, or, more likely, one of you fearless readers gently nudges me to post again -- deadlines I can manipulate, but gentle nudges are harder to ignore)

9. and 10. (to be filled in later, another procrastination activity is calling me)


Blogger lisa said...

` * ! * ' !; ! ~ " - # : ^ D ~ ` ' ! . * \ " " / / ^ ! "
-- no that's not computer gibberish... that's me LAUGHING (yes, and procrastinating, to boot!)
You made me laugh long and long-distance!!


2:13 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Hi Caroline -- I've sent this post out to a few of my friends who were suffereing recently from intense procrastination... it's a plague. Or maybe the plague is that we THINK we're supposed to be doing something...

6:09 PM  

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