Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ask Me Tomorrow

I had planned to write about procrastination last week, but I didn’t get around to it. I know, bad joke.
There is an old adage which says, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” And I believe this to be wise council. It would never have been coined had it not been proven to be beneficial. After all, have you ever heard someone curse himself for having finished a project early? Unless they were trying to kill time, it is unlikely. I certainly appreciate the extra time to double-check every detail.
So, why then, do I seem to be procrastinating? Am I lazy? I don’t believe that to be true, but maybe I’m not the best judge. After all, to some, sitting in front of a computer searching for the perfect word or phrase may constitute laziness, so I may tend to give some leeway where this is concerned. Do I crave the thrill of a deadline fast approaching? Although it may get the adrenaline pumping, I’m not sure thrill is the right word. And I’m sure others feel no thrill while waiting for me. Is it lack of time? Doubtful. My life is not that exciting.
So, what does that leave? I believe I have discovered the answer. Clutter. Whether it’s physical clutter or cluttered thought, it can leave you frustrated.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that every square inch of my desk is littered with scraps of paper containing research and random thoughts – which, of course, once developed, could change the way mankind perceives the nature of the universe – and as I begin to sift and file these unpolished intellectual gems, one of those scribbled lines opens up a new figurative vein of ideas, revealing a previously obscured cache of diamonds of the mind. Soon, I am once again up to my eyeballs in sticky notes, and frustrated, wondering which tangent to follow. Okay, so it’s not so hypothetical. I can create both physical and mental clutter at the same time. Wow, I’m a multi-tasker!  Multi-tasking can be an admirable quality, but when it doesn’t accomplish anything, it’s just a whole lot of nothing.
So, if my lack of concentration for the task at hand is being caused by clutter, perhaps my problem is not that I am procrastinating, but that I lack focus.
Perhaps I should stop mining diamonds and, instead, try cultivating one pearl at a time. Find the most irritating grain of sand that won’t let me rest until I address it, and see it through to fruition. In other words, take on a single task mindset. To quote a line by Charles Emerson Winchester III from the T.V. show “M.A.S.H.”, “I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on.” That is what I need to do. Remove the clutter and gain focus.
Therefore, the days of trying to pat my head while rubbing my tummy are over and I will chew my gum before I go for that walk.
As far as this piece is concerned, it may be silly, and I don’t know how well I’ve done it, but it is finished and now I shall move on. After all, I need to get busy on next week’s piece…or that idea I had for the play…or my short story…or….(sigh)

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