Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

Easy Going

8 April 2011


Dear J-

The rain came overnight and threatens throughout the day today, though at the moment it’s now clearing and going by gut feel (it helps to have an enormous gut like me) I’d guess that it’ll hold off for at least a couple of hours. All that’s saying, long-windedly, is that I could have ridden on the bike this morning but my life with the bike has reached a fever pitch of discontent already and I’m looking for a change. Well, in addition to that, I wanted to finish up the novel I was reading last night, one in the Gregor the Overlander series. The reading I not terribly challenging but the action is good and the philosophical thought behind it fairly deep, neither browbeating some moral lesson nor mindlessly repeating an overly simplistic view of the world.

The world is like that some times. If you keep looking for a simple, one-sided solution to your problrms you’re probably introducing a much larger burden on other people without realizing it. And if the intentions are good, well, you know what they say about roads to hell. I have the fairly unique luxury of being able to afford pretty much what we might want within reason — there are no Benzes in our future — but fairly nice stuff and the way the days pass I’m able to get plenty of rest without much consequence, getting up in the middle of the night maybe once to tote figgy over to the potty. I realize the work theVet does in keeping the family glued together; I’m under no illusions that there is a magic coujnter that bulky trash miraculously disappears from, the cats do not clean their own box, the baby does not feed himself, and figgy does not walk to daycare on her own. My life is easy and we fall into habits of taking that for granted too easily I think.

From Monday through Friday there’s a curious evolution in the urgency of doing things at work followed by an attendant rise in stress which ebbs with the tide, if you will, of work to be done. You want me to do something for you, you call me on Monday and it’ll be done. You want me to ignore you fiercely and give you the evil eye when I get back to my desk, you go right ahead and drop that on me on a Friday. Such is the lament of the ever-procrastinating, so spend a little of that good energy earlier in the week and make the most out of your time. Why wait? If you need a sense of urgency to get it done then by all means think about how much easier you’ll make the end of the week.



Start Procrastinating

22 September 2010

Dear J-

“Getting started is the hardest part.” They sound simple and innocuous enough, but coming as they do at the end of the latest harangue about the general state of my desk I can’t help but feel wronged. If I had a place to put everything I wouldn’t be in this mess, but then again, if I had a place to put everything I’d be a lot less busy. Double-edged sword and all; I try to keep the most recent requests in a small pile, but that means putting off the rest of my work until next week and next week after that. It’s not always easy to devote the time needed to keep organized, but a few minutes a day wouldn’t hurt.

Likewise at home, the cleanout needs to start happening before much longer. If, as I’d projected, I would really want to pull up the carpet and paint the walls (and maybe even install a tubular skylight), all that takes time and money, which are in short supply at the moment; shepherd the resources, though, and I’m sure I could squeeze time out of the lazy bits I decompress during. An hour a day, maybe, that’s not bad, from now until the test; then afterwards, the time I spend studying can be spent fixing up the room and grouting the hallway.

Problem is it all sounds great on paper, but it’s the getting started in the intimidating face of reality — the room is so messy, my desk is so buried — that it’s easy to reassure myself with promises of tomorrow. Yeah, good time to start, right? After a while it’s already October and your time is eaten up by long hours at work, those best hours of your day spent somewhere else and not where you ought to. Enough. Today we’ll be able to take a baseline before and run it up against an after, to see whether this is truly possible, or whether I’m hoping for fruitless miracles here.


Task Preview

9 September 2010

Dear J-

I find myself skipping ahead in the problem sets and glancing longingly at questions that look a lot easier than the one I’m working on; the same thing happens when I’m reading a book, where I’ll contrive ways to read the last couple of pages or look it up on the Internet. I don’t know when I started but I’ve already demotivated myself out of reading the rest of the Charlie Bone series and countless other novels. I think maybe I thought it was a little carrot I’d throw out there once in a while — see, this is where you’ll be, so work hard and you’ll get there sooner or later — and eventually became an expected privilege.

I think this is why I tend to procrastinate more often than most — the motivational technique of visualizing the desired future state doesn’t work for someone who’s always looking at it and can’t keep his mind on the task at hand. Maybe it’s also why work has been a drag: I see new things every day, but they end up being the same old problems with thin candy coatings, and it’s hard to work up the gotta-care attitude I need.

I’m impressed by folks who run their businesses, but I’m sure it helps to do something you love and know that your actions have a direct effect on your profit margins. In the end I suppose I do it because I want to, and kindling that fire inside isn’t easy for anyone. Meanwhile you end up waiting in line and biding time until the decisive moment; how fo you know it hasn’t already passed?


New Balance

14 December 2009

Dear J-

When did it become so easy to procrastinate away the days? It seemed like it was just Thanksgiving and, having decided that we’ll have Christmas at our disaster of a house this year, I had resolved silently to surprise them all: clean up the common areas, set up some kind of organization/storage beyond the usual bookshelves and any-available-horizontal-surface scheme we currently use. Truth is that it’s too easy: to put it off another night (man, that day, no matter which day it was, sure was a long one), to acquire more stuff — amazon’s persistent cart is the work of an evil genius.

I also have the resolution to make up some kind of a play kitchen, which should keep the next ten nights and days fairly busy between getting more parts; theVet has threatened to head out to get a store-bought one, too. It’s a sure sign of progress, I suppose, when you can’t even bring price into the equation; now I’m pretty much stuck with the it-would-be-more-fun to do it yourself excuse.

Small household projects pile up, some as simple as hanging more lights, some as ambitious as getting a new roof sometime next summer. You balance convenience with time; if it would be possible to get figgy to help (safely) ideally we’d get to do all kinds of projects together, but as it is there’s more fun on both sides to see new things and places, which means letting other things slide. That’s fine; we’ll find a new balance as those things come up.

Stretching Exercise

21 May 2009

Dear J-

The weeks are starting to extend themselves into a bit of a blur; we keep working what feels like a whole month’s worth of work in eight hours.  When I reflect on the things I did at the start of the day, they seem like remote mysteries from some ancient past.  This is, of course, not to say that I got a lot done — to the contrary, most days I’m lucky to have kept the deficit between tasks and accomplishments to a manageable level.

Treat things as they come in, then; don’t let them grow to absurd proportions.  I said as much yesterday.  It’s one of those things that you set as what seems like an achievable goal but one you inevitably end up missing in favor of putting the right details in.  Okay, by you I mean me; must be accurate with the man watching in the mirror.  Tasks and weeks both, then, blurring in the rear-view; sometimes I pick up pictures of figgy from not long ago and marvel at how different everything seems.

Stretch your arms around the issues; very few things will escape your grasp if you are ambitious enough.  Acquiring more tasks is entertaining, but how long can you keep those plates spinning on sticks?  When your world contracts on itself and you find yourself having to account for your actions, how proud can you be for having spent all those extra hours at work, instead of on your family?  Priorities shift and so do lives.


Repeated Themes

12 February 2009

Dear J-

Capture moments by stopping momentum; savor the time when and where you can.  We rush places because we’re convinced that there’s something better out there, but I’m not convinced — never convinced — that we don’t choose to leap prematurely.  Of course there’s also the dreaded paralysis of indecision that grips us when overwhelmed by choice; the open road, the next intersection, the nearest restaurant all pose indecipherable mysteries of their own.

Timing is key; once you’ve made the decision it’s a matter of waiting for the closest match, right?  Dithering about means, alternately, saving the time/money/effort versus the utility of what you end up with.  Call it cost/benefits if you must; it’s one thing to get a bargain and another thing entirely to correctly estimate the usefulness.  I keep believing that the right tool will unlock creativity when it’s a skill that’s nurtured through use, not crutches.

So where are we headed tonight?  More boondoggles?  My life is littered with well-intentioned projects ranging from the plastic models I got part way through or hurried to finish — and believe me, that’s a hobby that shows meticulousnes or lack thereof — to the proposed MythTV recording box that has yet to make it off paper.  I get older and questionably wiser, starting to recognize all the little tricks I like to play on myself to convince me into poor decisions.  Organizing life isn’t as easy as it seems, eh?


Interruption Station

29 October 2008

Dear J-

Spend enough time with us and you’ll see just how little I seem to live at home; up at four and out the door — the main thrills seem to come when the routine is disrupted for some new place, something new.  It may explain the inveterate poking about for new things (junk) to bring into the house, the bookshelves groaning under the weight of thrift store bargains, and the multiple drawers of Atari cartridges sitting somewhere in the shed (not too worried — those things are indestructible, after all).

Problem is that we’ve got too much stuff — make that I’VE got too much stuff — more than I’m ever going to have time to play with successfully.  Half-finished projects litter the spare bedroom (it looks like a stereo repair shop), just as half-completed work is piled all over my desk.  I dunno.  Eventually.  Someday.

It’s not necessarily procrastination; I have no problem starting something.  It’s in the follow-through — I still have yet to put together that movie from figgy’s first birthday, despite having captured more footage since then.  I fear my attention span has been shortened by lack of diligence, to the point where I can’t even accomplish tasks requiring more than a half hour of concentration at work (to be fair, it’s hard to get an uninterrupted half hour at work, though).


Procrastination Prognostication

2 December 2006

Dear J-

It’s not going to get done. Either that, or I chicken out and never show you the site. I’ve got a fair amount of work to do around the house, after all, and there’s no reason I need to sit here and type out what I know to be lies lies and more damn lies. I’m going to go to Charlotte next week (let’s hear it for EPRI!) and it seems like every time I head out on the road it’s with a certain sense of foreboding and fear, like that silver hammer was about to descend. I make a poor business traveler; I know how airplanes work, and the statistics show how safe it is, but all the same I check my dismal track record in picking grocery store lines (why yes, we do take your third-party out-of-state expired checks!) and traffic lanes and understand that it’s not personal, it’s just fate.

For the longest time growing up I thought that I’d be in a wheelchair by now — some kind of accident would take my mobility; I recognize it as some sort of odd cry for help or perhaps attention, as if I wasn’t already interesting enough being me. So, hi. Me me me. You? Really? Great, me again. Me me me. See you later.

This site is just another manifestation of it — if I really wanted to know how you were doing, I’d just send you a letter and be done with it. Instead I just do stupid stalker-class things like google your name to check what you’ve been up to. Not quite Every Breath You Take yet, but where exactly am I headed with this? How can this possibly end in any kind of happiness?

I’m headed to Charlotte on Monday, and hope to catch up with at least one of the friends I grew up with some time that week — another J, although the last time I saw her was under poor circumstances (her folks had just died in a car crash); there’s some truth to the idea that people you grow up with end up being like siblings. Sometimes I wonder if, had I ended up with someone from high school, it would have been more about comfort and convenience (there I go, losing the high school sweetheart audience; please come back, I’ll be nice).

There are still relatively few things I can say, hard and fast, as absolutes; the best I can offer is that if there’s a deadline, I will wait for it. If it can be done tomorrow, well, why not? I never read Quest for Truth until a few minutes ago (back then, because of the burning envy of the unpublished, now because of the wonderful powers of google, lifting back my scalp and POKEing directly into the grey matter beneath). My chores wait until the very last possible minute in a vain attempt to extract the last dregs of enjoyment from this morning.

Barring the far-from-evitable stumbling across the site before I have a chance to spring it on you, then, my biggest fears of today don’t revolve around where I’m sleeping tonight, but what kind of father I’ll be when I’m already so wrapped up in me. Do I just need someone else to lie reassurances in my ear, or is past performance really a good indicator of future returns? I tell you what, I kinda aped it up with my cousin to impress Missy at that buffet restaurant (yeh, the one she later told me to stay away from) — for some reason, the fourteen-year-old mind is so focussed on one thing that it stops thinking of implications one step beyond. Yes, if she sees me taking care of this toddler, she’ll think what a great father I would be, and therefore want me. I’d think that in the last years of high school, reproduction is not the goal — the act may be, but not the consequence. But really, the funny thing that happened was that I ended up liking it. A lot. Dunno if that was a tipping point, but once I forgot that I was trying to impress a girl and concentrated on actually taking care of my little cousin (she graduated, J-, graduated and wants to study music already; how old have I become?) I found that I actually was enjoying it.

So there it is, dopey as it might sound. I’ve wanted kids since I was fourteen, and not just for the process. There’s something magical about watching someone else learn things; like the universe being born anew in each amazing moment. It’s like I’m some odd cult member … join, join … you will like it … although I know that not everyone is probably suited for kids, that doesn’t stop me from thinking that your life wouldn’t be better for knowing at least a few. Maybe that’s the real question I should have asked fifteen years ago — I’m going to know a few really amazing folks (one of which I’ll meet for the first time in May) and I want you along for the ride, J- … life is going to become incalculably more interesting in six five months.


Here she comes walking ‘cross the sand
She’ll never know how she blows my mind
She’s there with the chemicals in my brain
Spinning softly ’round my head
I’m gonna give in, I’ll never change my mind
I feel it now, tonight is the night
And why should I try to resist
When it’s calling out to me

— Ash, Let it Flow

First Post

28 October 2006

Dear J-

I guess I should explain, maybe, who ‘J-‘ is — or maybe not, for now. It’s not about being freakishly secretive; anyone who’s read my old pages off the mit website should know that I enjoy baring my soul on a detailed level beyond that required by normal folks. Nope. ‘Dear J-‘ from one of my favorite childhood books, Dear Mr. Henshaw, and J- primarily because I’ve known so many folks in my life with J- names. So J- is, ostensibly, a generic everyone; to be honest, there’s a few folks I have directly in mind, but I’ll leave it at that for now for fear of future embarrassment.

It’s been nearly over eight years since I published anything substantive in my life. I’d send you over to my old site if I thought there was anything worth mentioning over there, but those are old stories, which maybe would be worth grabbing over to this side in the future, just so that other folks can laugh and point.   It’s almost as if time stood still for me, and I kept being able to be a kid until this year.  Many things happened — my grampa died of lung cancer, I started a new job, my parents moved out of the house I grew up in (and thought they’d stay in forever — it’s hard to put my mind around living in the same state again; I may just have to go back East), and my wife is pregnant for the first time.

Maybe I should have seen it coming once grampa (three wives — twice widowed, “your manhood fell off in the garden”) was gone.  This was going to be a different sort of year.  What sort of games did I get to play with a retired security guard from Tsingtao?  I’m still envious of my Chinese cousins for having known him better than me; I was too young to appreciate him, and too foreign to understand.  He was slow getting out of the car, so I’d sometimes help him along with a well-placed foot.  Kids at school would call him fat, so I begged my parents not to have him walk me to school any more.  His English was limited to ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you,’ so I refused to learn more Chinese than ‘Happy New Year.’  J-, if I had a time machine, I think I wouldn’t waste any time getting back to being six and whack the sass out of me.  There were still so many things I wanted to ask him.  Here’s a man who has lived the history you learned in school; there he goes, living in a treaty port, adjusting to life under Mao, now ending up alone in an apartment just five hundred miles away — can’t you call him, can’t you see him, can’t you hold him?  Ah, one last time, please.

If you’ve still got a million things left to do, get one done today.  Why not?   Someone will appreciate it.