I have to admit it. I’m a procrastinator. It’s not that I always procrastinate. I’ve actually been able to discipline myself to the point I often tackle things ahead of time just to get them out of the way.
Procrastination is often my fallback position, however. If there’s something more pleasurable to be done, I often opt for that choice. “When in doubt, take the easy way out.” (That might be a good bumper sticker for me.)
“When you’re facing the wall, what can you do?”
In college (and even seminary), I pulled a few all-nighters because I procrastinated. I always swore I’d never do it again, but do it again I did. Losing sleep seldom proved to be the best solution; but when you’re facing the wall, what can you do?
Of course, sometimes it mattered what the task was. If I needed to study for a test, all-nighters were useless. I never studied well when I was tired. No-Doz (remember that stuff) and coffee were never much help.
On the other hand, if I just had to write a relatively short research paper, I could handle that. I could even manage a decent grade under that scenario. I’m not exactly sure how I pulled those off, but I guess I’m just wired that way.
Then there were the times that I procrastinated to the point where nothing could be done. I just had to find some great excuse for not being finished. “The dog ate my homework” was never an option for me—I didn’t have a dog. But I remember coming up with some doozies. I won’t mention them here (it’s too embarrassing).
“They just never got around to me…”
The greatest times were when procrastination turned out to be the best of all worlds. That was when, as it turned out, the time was extended, the project was canceled, or they just never got around to me that day. The fact that my last name begins with “Z” sometimes helped me there.
Procrastination is not something I recommend. It’s just something I occasionally do. If I’m not properly motivated to perform a task, I’ll put it off in a heartbeat. I’m often sorry for that later, but I still often find myself in a pressure situation that I’ve created because of my propensity for deferring the inevitable.
I’ve known people who claim they work better under pressure. Those guys are supreme procrastinators. They put everything off until the last moment. I don’t think I could live like that. Extreme procrastination would give me ulcers. For me, it’s not a way of life. It’s more like a hobby.
On the other end of the spectrum are guys like our new President. He’s trying to keep all his campaign promises in the first two weeks. A little procrastination might do him some good. I’m getting frazzled just watching him.
I guess what I’m trying to say by all this is that it’s good to stop and smell the roses. Just don’t stop for too long (unless you have a dog to blame things on).
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]