It was a weekend morning, and the house was gloriously quiet. DangerBear was still asleep. Chickpea had eaten her breakfast and was reading in her bedroom. I was downstairs, in the living room, absorbing the peacefulness. I rearranged the couch pillows and lay down. At this point, I probably sighed in contentment. All was right with the world.
Then something buzzed by my ear.
A fly. A fly that apparently found me irresistible, as it repeatedly dive-bombed me and buzzed around my head. I grabbed a nearby magazine and swatted, but to no avail: The beast was too fast. I decided to ignore it, and returned to the couch. The fly followed. I swatted, in vain. The game continued until Chickpea finished her book and came downstairs to ceaselessly ask me random questions.
My ill-fated nap was made even more frustrating by the fact that it was my own fault. I had spotted the fly earlier that morning: It had landed, lethargically, on the table next to my chair. I could have caught it at that moment, but Alas! In a ridiculous act of procrastination, I decided to do it later.
In between aggravating fly-catching attempts, I pondered the parallels between my current endeavor and the consequences of procrastination.
The ramifications of putting something off are annoying and inconvenient. Procrastinating on something that needs to be done, even a small task, has consequences. Sure, losing the chance for a nap isn’t a big deal; it’s just kind of annoying. Putting something off might not lead to catastrophe, but not having it done right away will have some kind of fallout.
Procrastination is stressful. How can you enjoy yourself if That Thing You Should Be Doing But Aren’t keeps invading your thoughts? Like the fly that kept buzzing past my ear, That Thing makes it impossible for you to relax. You feel guilty for putting it off, so it keeps “bugging” you. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
Procrastinating usually ends up requiring more effort than necessary. If I had caught the fly while it was relaxing contentedly on the table, I would have saved myself some time and effort. Here’s a more normal example: If I put off spot-treating a stained shirt, the stain will set. I’ll then have to repeatedly treat and wash it, hoping the stain will eventually come out. If I treat the stain right away, the shirt will come clean in the wash and everybody’s happy. Doing it now saves time later.
I would like to thank that little fly (may it rest in peace) for teaching me these valuable lessons, and for providing me with an appropriate, though bizarre, analogy. Does this mean I’ll never procrastinate again? Sadly, no. It’s a deeply ingrained habit for me, but it’s one I’m working on. Actually, it’s probably a good thing my nap was interrupted. I should have been doing laundry.
Photo of sleeping cat from End of Level Boss on Flickr.