Monday, January 17, 2011

Mastering Deadlines

In high school I wrote an essay at the last minute and won a college scholarship.

Things like that used to happen to me quite a bit.  I'd tell myself I'd gradually work on the assignment, but then I'd wait until there was barely any time left to even get started, and suddenly I was a genius. I'd make A's on science projects and English papers. I'd make band tapes the night before and get First Chair (Yes, I was a band nerd). I thrived on the pressure and enjoyed the rush I got from succeeding under unrealistic self-inflicted deadlines. 

But the truth is that the success I had, despite my extreme procrastination, always came at a price.  I had to miss a party I really wanted to attend in order to write that essay.  In fact, I wanted to forget about it since I'd dug myself in such a hole.  Can you believe I'd had two months to prepare for it? My thinking went: "It's too late now, and my friends are calling me asking if I'm ready to go. I got a new outfit!" But my parents insisted that I stay home until I finished writing.  I ended up spending my Friday night in front of the computer pouring my heart out for some college moolah.  Thank God my parents made me suffer the consequences for my bad decision-making, regardless of whether I got the scholarship.

That was about 15 years ago and I still struggle with procrastination.
But the thrill must have been part of the reason I was drawn to a television reporting career. There wasn't a lot of time to procrastinate, but I was certainly working up to the last minute on many days.

I will say that I've gotten much better now that I'm a mother. I refuse to let my kids suffer (any longer) from my issues. The effects of procrastination are exhausting! There have been times where I forgot to buy a gift for a child's birthday party and had to scavenger hunt while driving to the party.  Trust me, I know the importance doesn't compare to completing a work or school assignment on time, but combing the toy department looking for the perfect gift for your kid's buddy is a pain when the party is less than two hours away, your kid hasn't taken a nap, is screaming for said toy AND you need to wrap the gift -- in the car. (Did I remember the tape and tissue paper?)

Fortunately getting more organized is helping me procrastinate less and less.  Preparing my son's lunch for school at night instead of the morning makes things less stressful.  Cleaning the dishes as soon as we're finished eating, instead of later, feels so good -- especially when I pass a pristine kitchen on the way to bed at night.  Yes, it's easy to put things off when you're tired from the day and your favorite show is beckoning, but nothing's sweeter than having completed something and having enough time left to perfect some details.

Now I wonder how much better things would have been for me if I wasn't so good at flirting with the possibility of not making it to the finish line on time.  I've realized that procrastinating is a form of self-sabotage and it's finally time to let it go. And the time is right NOW.

1 comment:

Tatiana said...

Ah, this is quite an issue for me right now which is why I scheduled a recording session for less than a month away. That way I am forced to get the music arranged and written in time. Great blog. :)