Tags Posts tagged with "procrastinator"


Alarm clock concept

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

You wouldn’t know, of course, dear reader, but I almost always write this column each week at the last minute. Why? I could say it is to get in the latest news, or that I am so busy I can’t write it sooner, but that’s not the truth. The reason is that I am an incorrigible procrastinator. And even when I do write ahead of time and submit the column early, I feel so virtuous, and I want to extend that good feeling as long as I can, which causes me to procrastinate writing the next column until the last minute.

What’s more, I believe most people, and especially most journalists, are closet procrastinators, and that part of the appeal of journalism is the ever-present deadlines, without which we would do nothing but be sloths.

It’s much easier to be lazy. I like to sit on the back deck and just stare out at the trees and think. Perhaps that’s meditating, which would put a respectable spin on it, but it’s more just peacefully enjoying my thoughts and my ease. A deadline, however, does move me.

A recent TED talk, that my oldest son emailed me, confirmed my belief about the existence of multitudes of procrastinators. Tim Urban, a writer and blogger, is also a funny man when he offers a look “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator,” as the subject of his talk. He maintains that we have a rational decision-maker in our brains, who knows when we should get started on a project or chore, and also an instant gratification monkey, who overrides the rational decision-maker in favor of doing things that are easy and fun. There is, according to Urban, a third being we carry in our heads that is a kind of guardian angel. That one is the panic monster, the only being the instant gratification monkey is terrified of. The panic monster, after putting the whole system in chaos by arriving on the scene, successfully motivates us procrastinators to do what we need to do before the deadline.

So what do I do when I am heeding the instant gratification monkey?

I do all sorts of vitally important things, like cleaning out the pantry on my way to the computer keyboard. Of course, by the time I have finished, it’s time to start making dinner or going to bed. You can believe I have a neatly arranged pantry.

The New York Times print version is impossible for me to ignore, and it’s a perfect procrastinator’s tool. No matter how much of the daily issue I have read, there is always more to read, all of it equally important, of course. I carefully read the obits of people I have never heard of, and whose names I will shortly forget, but their lives must have great meaning for me right now.

Then there is the call of the wild from the kitchen refrigerator. I must be hungry, and surely there is something in there that I need to eat at this moment. If the frig fails me, I can resort to the organized pantry alongside.

We all need fresh air, especially if we are about to do something that requires some cognitive effort, so we should probably take a walk before we sit down to create. And after the walk, we need a bit of a rest, say a 20-minute power nap. And who was that we were supposed to call back? We should do it right now, before we forget.

Hey, we can’t begin working yet. “Jeopardy!” is on shortly. We’ll start immediately after the final question. That is, if we are not too tired. If we are too tired, we can always write that next column in the morning, before we go to press.

And that is how, after more than 46-and-one-half years of writing a column, I still do so at the last minute. The fault must be in my DNA. I’ll blame it on my mom.