Honest, I'll Get To It

Been a while since I’ve posted. My apologies. However, as Paula Poundstone recently tweeted, “Last night I tearfully accepted ‘Best of Intentions’ at the Procrastinators Awards. I had a great idea for a speech.” So, because I have all these great ideas for posts that I just can’t seem to get written, I will instead share with you a piece I put together just over a year ago. At that time, the blog was planned but not started. In testing out some ideas, I came up with this one. Somehow, this seems the apropos time to share.  

College Stays With Us

College stays with us, and kindergarten stays with us, and grammar school stays with us, and middle school stays with us, and high school stays with us, and Mrs. Parmenter of 7th grade history stays with us, and the high school art teacher who had his yearbook picture taken while holding a big yellow flower like Arte Johnson stays with us, and we’re all shaped by the fortunes and misfortunes that perplexed, haunted, blinded, and made us grin throughout the exquisite torture that were our school days.

But many of us share a common malady — a disease that we contracted in those glorious college days — the sickness known as “It’s not due yet.”

My college days occurred more than 35 years ago and I still remember it all to well. The semester starts, the syllabus is passed out (35 years ago we didn’t look anything up on the computer and we knew what mimeograph was), and I looked for the one or two momentous events that would shape the remainder of the class for that semester – the research paper. Okay, maybe it wasn’t always a research paper, and maybe it didn’t get assigned until later in the semester, but stick with me here. In almost every class there was a major assignment that would suck up a lot of time.  Of course, the professors were generous and gave us all ample warning and plenty of time.

Fat lot of good that did me.

Invariably, my initial response was, “I’ll get right on this.” Invariably, I said that every week until the night before the paper/project/science project (whoops, that was grade school) was due.  And the result was everything that could be expected — a sleepless night and, in the best of times, a “C.”

And this very day, as I sit typing this blog [author’s note: as indicated, I was typing this over a year ago, but the rest is very true], I am within one week of the contractual due-date for the second edition of the book I co-authored with Paulette Keller. The publisher is waiting expectantly, the assistant is waiting patiently, and Paulette is waiting with that look in her eyes that means my obituary may be needed in short order. You would think six months would be plenty of time to write (nay, rewrite — it is a second edition after all) a book. But there is much more left unwritten than written at this point. (Did I mention it is due in one week?)

But college stays with us. And before you sit there thinking you’ve built an immunity to the affliction (and I won’t even bother talking to those of you who want to claim you never waited until the last moment to turn in your papers. You are either lying to yourself, or you’re one of those people who actually got “A’s” — and we all know your kind will eventually wind up dying of advanced vertigo at some roulette table), ask yourself this question. When was the last time you got an audit done two or three weeks ahead of time? When was the last time you weren’t rushing to get the assignment done by the original planned date? How many due dates have you missed (albeit just by a day or two) and rationalized that it was close enough?

 Yeah — me too.

The initial response from most people is, “Of course we’re close to the due date; that’s what planning is for.” But next time ask yourself, how much of hitting the exact due date is excellent planning and how much is your propensity to not worry about the due date until it begins to hover alarmingly close.

I’m not picking on anyone. Let he who is without late work cast the first “I told you so.” All I’m really saying is that many of the habits we figured we’d outgrow have sure stuck with us. And to prove the point — I’m writing this blog when I should be working on Chapter Four. But, I’ve got a whole week — and there’s a really good episode of SpongeBob Squarepants on right now.

So, there it is. And I am quite sure that a many of you will be posting brilliant replies — as soon as you get to it. (Now, where did I put Paula’s award. I was supposed to give it to her last week.)


Posted on Jun 29, 2010 by Mike Jacka

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