Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Procrastinating 101: Late (Again) Because Too Many Funny Things Happened on the Way to Wherever

Is this you?

Or this?

Or this?

                                          Absent-Minded Professor Brainard's housekeeper tries to keep                                                 him from missing his wedding--for the third time!

Then this week's Procrastinating 101 may just resonate, as we look at "Cure Five:  Get Focused and Organized" in Diana DeLonzor's Never Be Late Again:  7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged.

According to Ms. DeLonzor's schema, the Absent-Minded Professor is one of the seven types of chronically late people--which you might be if you answer yes to two or more of the following questions:
  • Do I frequently forget appointments, meetings, or where I put the car keys?
  • Do I often forget names and details of conversations?
  • Have I frequently been accused of being unobservant or of not paying attention?
  • Do I notice that the light has turned green only after the driver behind me honks?
  • Do I regularly digress from the subject when speaking?
  • Do I jump from one activity to another before the first is finished?
(That would be three yeses for me.)

DeLonzor says that three main "problem areas" typify those of us who find ourselves in this overall profile: 
  • Distractibility (like The Family Circus's Billy)
  • Forgetfulness and Disorganization (like, well, me)
  • Lack of Awareness of Others (like Fred McMurray's Prof. Brainard, who kept forgetting to show up for his own wedding)
The legions of individuals who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder--like one of my children--have major struggles in these areas.  But not all of them, or of the rest of us, need Ritalin or some other concoction to cope.  And we can all benefit, argues DeLonzor, by taking these three steps:
  • Learning to stay focused on one thing for a sustained period of time
  • Getting organized and adding structure to our lives
  • Increasing our awareness and observation of other people
As in her previous chapters, DeLonzor approaches our reform by outlining a series of exercises designed to help identify the ways in which these behaviors and tendencies are making us late, and practicing new habits.  

My favorites on her list?  Meditation to improve focus; and establishing times and days for certain tasks.  The first of these I continue to work on making time for, finding that the more I need it the less likely I am to do it--grrr!   The second is perennially difficult for me as well.  And I am not helped much by my freelancer's schedule.  I am inspired by DeLonzor's simple instruction, however, to make another attempt to set up at least a skeletal structure, and to resist the impulse to agree to whatever scheduling requests and changes my clients and part-time employers might suggest. 

So no, Ms. S, I can't squeeze in covering for you at a luncheon next week.  I'll be meditating.

And next week Tuesday?  I'll be here blogging about Cure 6--for the timeliness Rebels in the crowd. 

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