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A good rationalization is the key to success

First, the bad news: I’m a procrastinator, and I’m getting worse.

Now, the good news: That makes me pretty average.

A new study has found that the number of Americans who consider themselves "chronic procrastinators" has jumped from 5 percent in 1978 to 26 percent today.

Based on the number of people Christmas shopping on Dec. 23 and filing their taxes on April 15, I would have guessed that the number was higher.

Being a procrastinator is something relatively new for me, and most of the blame belongs to Bill Gates or Al Gore or whoever invented the Internet.

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I was reminded of that again one night about a week ago as I sat in front of the computer to do some research for a project I’d been assigned at work.

For no particular reason, I followed a string of completely unrelated links from one Web site to another; two hours later, I found myself scrolling through a site that described in great detail the wildlife indigenous to Malaysia.

I still have no idea how or why I ended up where I did, but I vaguely remember that somewhere between my starting point and Malaysia I read an interesting history on the creation of Tinker Toys and a recipe for chocolate chip cookies guaranteed to be better than the ones Mom used to make.

Two hours of my life I wish I could have back.

As I logged off the computer, my mind drifted back to the deadline that was quickly approaching for my work assignment. It wasn’t a particularly difficult project, and it had the potential to be educational and entertaining. Still, for some reason I had put the project off until the very last minute.

In the end, it took less time and energy to do the project than it did worrying about it and creating reasons to delay it for one more day. As with most personality flaws, I’ve learned that there are two ways to deal with them: First, you can make a diligent attempt to change and eliminate them. That’s the hard way.

The easy way is to justify them. If I haven’t put up the storm windows by Christmas, am I three months behind or four months ahead? Sure, I could have shoveled the driveway after the last snowfall, but in the next week it’s probably going to A) snow again or B) melt. Either way it renders my failure to shovel the last snow a moot point.

To be honest, I’d rather tie the corners of a large bath towel around my neck and pretend it’s a cape while my 6-year-old son and I play super heroes than vacuum the living room.

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The living room will still be there tomorrow. My son won’t be 6 forever.

That’s not "procrastination." It’s "parenting."

I’m starting to feel better about myself already.

The same study said people who procrastinate tend to be less healthy, less wealthy and less happy.

Possibly. But I can live with myself knowing that the car is 4,000 miles past its scheduled oil change, just knowing I won’t have to sit in a mechanic’s waiting room for an hour, reading three-year old magazines.

Incidentally, I came across this study on "procrastination" two months ago and meant to write about it sooner. You know how it is.

Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson, and their son.

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