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Category Archives: Procrastination

Paralysis Analysis

Indecision can be a crippling thing. The fear of making the WRONG choice often leads to making no choice at all. Procrastination ultimately makes the decision for me, and when the results do not play out the way that I intended for them to, I lay blame at the feet of “circumstance,” neatly sidestepping my own responsibility for the outcome.

I do this frequently, and I hate it. Rarely are the decisions about life-altering events.  More often they are about things for which there is no right or wrong answer. Instead, there is simply “Choice A” and “Choice B.” And yet, I work myself into a worried frenzy over which choice I should make-convinced that one choice is better than another.

Case in point: I am going to Atlanta for a conference next week. The decision I am facing is simple. Should I drive or fly?

I live in the Chicago area, so the drive will take 12-14 hours. For many people, this might be a no-brainer. The thought of driving that far is mind-numbing. Most people would have bought their plane ticket months ago.

Not so for me. You see, I love to drive. The thought of all that time alone in the car, driving through the mountains in the midst of the changing fall colors, listening to music and uplifting tapes and audiobooks…that’s very appealing to me.

So then, why the mental wrestling match? If the drive is not drudgery but rather a joyful experience, why is this even an issue for me?

It’s the car…

My 12-year old Buick Century has more than 200,000 miles on it. The car is a tank; it took out a huge deer a couple of years ago and barely flinched…But she is getting long in the tooth, and I’m starting to sense that her age is catching up to her. I think that she’ll be good for another year or two, but a drive through the mountains, 1500 miles round trip, feels like a bit much for her.

The decision I am wrestling with is financial. Airfare is more expensive than driving…unless the car breaks down. A catastrophic breakdown in the middle of Kentucky (or worse, the mountains of Tennessee), would be very expensive. And of course, even if there are no mechanical problems with the car, the wear and tear of the drive will definitely make an impact.

I find myself frozen with fear. The indecision is palpable. If I make the “wrong” choice, I will be doomed to destruction. I will have carelessly spent money in folly, never able to recover from the error of my tragic mistake. Paper or plastic becomes a moral dilemma. Should I drive the van or the car? Should I drink coffee or tea? Should I go to the Starbucks in Merrillville or Crown Point? Should I, should I, should I…

I’m a drama queen, I admit it. I take seemingly small decisions and I inflate them to critical choices that will surely alter the course of my life in some irreparable way. Life is about making choices, deciding and moving on. And procrastinating my way into making a choice is a decision in itself. It’s the decision to be reactive instead of being proactive. It’s the decision to let life happen to YOU, instead of YOU happening to life.

The truth is, I went to sleep last night racked with indecision about this simple choice-fly Southwest, or drive to the south and the west.

I woke up with the decision made. Sometimes it really is good to “sleep on it.” But even if I hadn’t made a decision in my sleep, I would have still needed to make a choice this morning.

Because I’m tired of being passive-of letting life happen to me.

I want to HAPPEN to LIFE

 

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37 Days

It’s been a month…A MONTH…

Actually, 37 days to be precise…which is more than a month. But somehow, 37 days doesn’t sound as bad as a month. And that’s my problem…I’m trying to make it sound less bad than it really is.

It has been MORE than a month since I wrote a blog.

When I started writing, I had this vision of trying to share my life from a quirky perspective. I wanted to be able to encourage my readers. I wanted to make you laugh while offering a humorous view on the ups and downs of life. I imagined myself to be a modern-day Andy Rooney.

Andy Rooney died…

And so will this blog if I don’t get more serious about it.

The truth is that life, as is so often the case, is getting in the way. Health, wealth (or LACK of it), family, and friends have all bubbled to the top of my priority list, and I haven’t maintained my writing as a priority in life.

And that’s a shame.

Because I really do love to write.

I feel energized and motivated when I write. My brain engages, and the words come so fast and furious that I have trouble writing them coherently. As I get older, that “brain engagement” seems to come less frequently…so when it does, I get very excited.

I woke up this morning, and my brain was fully engaged. I was so excited to write, that I wish I could have taken my iPad into the shower. And as I sit in front of my computer, typing away, I glance at the clock…5:17 am. I am wide awake, fully engaged, and excited about the day before me. With a cup of hot milk tea by my side (my newest addiction, courtesy of my son, Matthew), my fingers are flying over the keyboard, capturing my thoughts as quickly as they can, straining to keep up with the voices in my head…and I can’t help but think:

“Why can’t writing be this easy ALL the time?”

The answer is simple…if it were so easy, everyone would be doing it. And then it would no longer be special.

So as I write this morning, I feel the energy…and I am embracing it. This is very much a spiritual experience. In the Academy-Award winning movie, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

I understand what he meant by that.

Because I believe that we are all made for a purpose. And when I take time to slow down and listen, time to let the words flow, not from just my brain, but from my heart…

The noise of the world fades away and I can feel God’s pleasure.

I get filled…filled with energy, passion, focus, motivation…all the things that give me the fuel to get things done in life…

My brain is slowing down now…the words are coming less easily. My fingers aren’t flying across the keyboard as quickly as they were just minutes ago. The pressures of the day are starting to dance around in my head. And I know that it is time to bring this rambling post to a close.

I hope that the words will continue to come easily to me over the next days, weeks, and months.

But even if they don’t, I need to sit down, in the quiet of the early morning, like I have done today…

And write.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Focus, God, Procrastination, Self-discipline, Writing

 

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It!

I’m experiencing great distress at the moment…

I’m not supposed to feel this way. Today is my day off. I’m sitting in my favorite chair, at my favorite Starbucks. I’m enjoying my favorite cup of coffee, mixed specially by my favorite barista. The sun is shining, the sky is blue…I think I even heard a bird chirp.

None of this matters, because…

The internet is down.

HORRORS!

At first, I thought that it was my computer. I shut it down and restarted it…wouldn’t connect. So I grabbed my iPad, opened it up, and tried to connect.

Nothing…

I feel so lost and alone…disconnected from the outside world. My mind starts to play games…

Maybe it’s a solar flare whose electromagnetic resonance has destroyed the ionosphere, shutting down communication worldwide. I can’t know for sure that this isn’t the case…because I can’t communicate with the outside world.

Oh wait, my cell phone still works…never mind.

Maybe the rapture occurred and I have been left behind.

Probably not…

Maybe the wireless connection at Starbucks is on the fritz…

That’s the most likely scenario.

Whatever the cause, I find it very annoying that I cannot connect to the internet. I have important things to do…

Like defending monkey towers from invading bloons…

Or taking my turn in my latest Scrabble game…

Or even replying to the latest e-mail from that guy in Nigeria who is going to give me $9,000,000…as soon as I send him my social security number.

Yes, I am a very busy guy with very important things to do…

And I need the internet…

SIGH…

Still not connecting.

Guess I’ll do something productive…

What’s this thing in my backpack?

I remember this! I think it’s called a “book.”

I wonder what it’s for…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Focus, Procrastination, Uncategorized

 

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When You Don’t Feel Like It…

I have a problem…You see, I’m a writer…and a writer is supposed to, well…WRITE. But I’m not feeling inspired to write at the moment…

That’s not exactly the problem. The problem is that, whether I feel INSPIRED or not, I need to write anyway.

And I haven’t been.

You can’t get away with that in most other professions.

For example, just because I don’t feel like teaching my class doesn’t mean that I don’t show up and do it anyway.

If people didn’t show up for work, society would fall apart. Patients would die while their doctors hit the golf course. Retailers would lock their doors because no one came to work to take care of their customers. The transportation system would grind to a halt as drivers and pilots took the day off.

So why do I stop writing when I don’t feel like it?

Is it because I somehow view my writing as less important? Do I think that what I have to say doesn’t matter?

Or is it because I am just undisciplined…

That’s a statement, not a question.

It also answers the question, “Why do I stop writing when I don’t feel like it?”

I’m undisciplined. My days blow by without a plan. And, as the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

In a recent blog, Michael Hyatt writes about the importance of getting a handle on his schedule. He even includes a link to an excel file that lays out his “ideal week.” I encourage you to read it. You will benefit immensely, believe me.

What tools are you using to become more productive? Have you ever laid out a picture of your “ideal” day, week, or month? Please feel free to share how you are maximizing your time more effectively.

Because I need all the help I can get.

 

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Procrastination Killed the Chickens

We all know that “curiosity killed the cat,” and “an asteroid killed the dinosaurs.” I even know that “Video killed the radio star.” But I learned a valuable and expensive lesson this morning when I found that “Procrastination killed the Chickens.”

My wife Kate has raised chickens for several years. She took a brief hiatus from it when our son was getting married, but she decided this past winter that she wanted to get some chicks and raise them again. I LOVE the fresh chicken eggs, so I was all for it. She ordered them (they actually come in a small box in the mail-25 chicks in a box about 8 by 10 inches), and she told me that they would be here around the end of April. She also told me that there were a few repairs that needed to be done to the coop and asked me to take care of them when I could-preferably before the chicks arrived.

The chicks arrived on April 25th, and, while I had made some of the repairs to the coop, I had not gotten them all done, most notably, a gap in the nest box door that was caused by the warping of the wood I used to build the original coop five years ago…

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

This morning, I awoke to find my six-year old daughter in tears. She told me that “all the chickies DIED…” My heart sank…I asked my wife what happened (stupid question). She said that when she went out to feed them, they were all dead. Something “got in somewhere.” In my gut, I knew where that “somewhere” was, and it was pretty much confirmed when I went out to investigate the slaughter. There were dead chickens everywhere, but, in the nest box where I had failed to fix the offending gap, was a scene of carnivorous carnage that turned my stomach. I had my answer…

I was responsible for this.

After apologizing to my wife and comforting my distraught daughter, I returned to the coop and cleaned up the mess. I have spent the last several hours repairing the chicken coop…and all the while, all I could think was this:

“You procrastinated again! Why do you keep DOING this?!?!?”

Isn’t that the way it is when we procrastinate? When we don’t want to do something, we put it off until later…and then later…and then later again, until finally, either we drag ourselves through the effort to accomplish something that could have been done so much sooner, or, worse, we end up paying the consequences for our inaction.

I have probably paid hundreds, if not thousands, of extra dollars throughout my life because of my procrastination. The sad thing is that my inaction didn’t just cost ME (in terms of extra time, money, and effort), but it also cost my wife. Five weeks of hard work was wasted. It cost my daughter emotionally. It cost my son, who took care of the chickens every day while we were on vacation.

Are you a procrastinator? Are there things on your to-do list that you keep pushing back “until tomorrow?” If there is, I want you to take a moment and think about the possible consequences of delaying action on each one of them. Then, choose one of them, take the next step, and get that item done. You’ll be glad you did.

And, unlike me, you probably won’t have to clean up any bloody, headless chicken corpses.

Have a nice day! 🙂

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Procrastination, Self-discipline

 

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