Procrastination Not Easy to Change

Rachel Birdsell

Rachel Birdsell

By Rachel Birdsell

Journalist, Susan Orlean, once said, “I think of myself as something of a connoisseur of procrastination, creative and dogged in my approach to not getting things done.” In stark opposition to rejoicing in one’s ability to be creative with procrastination, Phillip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield said, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

The wild child in me wants to go with the Susan Orlean’s procrastination method where I revel in how creative I can be while putting things off. The logical, finger-wagging mother in me knows that the Earl knew what he was talking about, which causes the wild child to stick her tongue out at the mother. But, I think we all know that we can replace just about anything in our life except time. It is fleeting, ephemeral and somewhat of a bastard.

I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not too proud to admit that I’m a procrastinator. And I’ve realized that I haven’t every really examined why I do it. Maybe if I can figure out the why, I can lessen the frequency of my procrastinatory ways. Procrastinatory actually isn’t a word, but I think it should be one. Feel free to plagiarize. But getting back on track, a lot of the time I think I procrastinate because the task at hand is one that isn’t particularly fun and sometimes is downright unpleasant. For instance, I loathe having to package and ship the items I sell on eBay. It’s not fun. It’s boring, so I put it off until I absolutely have to do it and then it’s even a bigger chore because I’m in a hurry to get it done. I’m that way with paying bills, too. It’s not that I can’t pay them. I just don’t like letting go of my money until I absolutely have to. So I put off paying them. So, then the due date is staring at me and I’m reluctantly scrambling to get them paid. I’ve had close calls with it before, too.

I haven’t researched it, but I’d bet that some of our more successful people weren’t or aren’t procrastinators. It’s doubtful that Steve Jobs was a procrastinator. Carl Sagan didn’t put things off. Bill Gates doesn’t put things off. These guys more than likely plowed through all the tasks at hand, before they needed to be done. Then they could move on with the next task and be ahead of the competition that might be dragging its feet.

I don’t think the reasons I procrastinate are particularly reasonable. In fact, I think they’re pretty dumb. So, I’m going to make a pact with myself to try and not procrastinate. It won’t be easy because I’m 45 and procrastination has been my constant companion for a long time. I know that if I stop putting off things until the last minute, I’ll be more productive and actually be ahead of the competition with my many endeavors. So, here is my public vow to stop this senseless procrastination. I promise I’m going to start as soon as I finish checking out Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter and…

Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can drop her a line at

Categories: Commentary