I’ve been doing writing columns for the Gazette for … wow, 12 years now. After doing this for such a long time, I would hope I would remember that when my column is due right before a long weekend, the due date is a day earlier.
But, no. We cannot enjoy the fruits of such presence of mind. So here I am, writing another column from — you guessed it — a hotel room. Here’s another piece written abroad and packed with wit, advice and news from beyond city limits. Well, actually just advice.
The advice is this — don’t procrastinate. And I’m not just saying this because I could have written my column early to avoid a deadline crunch.
I’m a writer and writing trainer by trade. Deadlines are my life’s milestones. From one deadline to the next, I float, crawl, roll, sprint, meander, saunter, sashay or coast (depending on the project). So once again, you’d think by now I’d have caught on to the whole “I have time right now to get this done … and not be stressed” way of doing things.
But surely there are some of you out there who know the sweet, sweet taste of putting things off? It’s an indulgence. It’s like cheesecake or staying up late. Some people are just more prone (or less resistant) to indulgence than others. And, as we know, I am prone.
Now, a real problem with procrastination when your work life is like mine is that people spring surprise projects on you and these projects can often have ridiculously tight deadlines. Like, stop-existing-to-the-outside-world, don’t-even-think-of-doing-anything-else-that-isn’t-an-absolute-physical-necessity tight. These lovely little projects wouldn’t be so problematic if I didn’t already have other projects on the go for other people. Naturally there are only so many hours in a day so, if it’s physically impossible to cram the proposed work into my available hours, then I should really just say that, right? Sure. But you try being a writer and consultant and turning down work. Yeah, imagine it. See? Not so easy.
So, there I am, floating along, measuring the time until my deadlines against the tasks that I must complete and filling in the gaps with stuff that is way more fun and way, way less lucrative. Everything seems to be on course. Then blam! “Hello David, would you be interested in doing this lucrative project for us? You’ll need a time machine to get it done on time, and even then your house and email inbox will become so messy and clogged from neglect that you’ll consider faking your own death to avoid having to deal with them after you’re done this work.” I mean, who can say no to that?
Anyway, take it from me. Don’t procrastinate. See? Now I’ll have to tell you about my spring break vacation in my next column.
Dave Lloyd has written this message for the Foundation to Prevent Procrastination in Canadians.