Put things off? Let me get back to you on that

My greatest character flaw, if you can call it that, is one that I inherited at birth.

I’m a huge procrastinator.

And yes, I did inherit this problem at birth. Let me explain.

As the story goes, when my mother was pregnant with me, I’m told that I (somehow) decided to hold off on my own arrival, way past my mother’s due date, only to arrive on the one day of the year she looked forward to most – our annual family reunion. Thus my holding off on being born caused her to miss the reunion. So you see, my procrastination has been annoying people since the day I was born.

I’ve come to the conclusion that since I was born with this flaw, I most likely will never change it, so I’ve stopped trying. Or I’ve put off trying anyway.

All I know is that I have many unfinished tasks in my life that represent procrastination gone amuck. Like right now there are about 10 separate piles of papers, a labeler and empty folders piled high on my guest bed waiting to be labeled, organized and filed. This project has been going on since February. I set that task aside to work on organizing my garage, which I got about one third of the way through before I started a writing project that is, at this time, about halfway done. And there are two or three more organizing jobs in the works that I’m not even going to mention.

But the very worst illustration of my very bad procrastination habit is this column. It never fails. My column submission is due every other Wednesday. I know it’s coming, and yet, because of my habit-from-birth, I find myself scrambling to complete my submission on the very day it’s due. My editor is kind enough not to send too many reminder emails, thankfully, but I’m sure he wonders what the problem is. At least now he knows.

In my defense and the defense of all of you other self-proclaimed and closet procrastinators, I think I’ve finally figured out why some things get put off, and some things don’t. It’s because most projects require two things to get completed - lots of time and being in the right mood.

Mood is a big one for me. I require a certain amount of inspiration to start writing. It wouldn’t matter if you dangled a $20 bill in front of me to get me to finish this column sooner - if I am not in the right mood and if I’m not inspired, it just isn’t going to happen.

Having enough time is the other contributor to all of my unfinished tasks. My free time is very limited, so if I start something that I know is going to take a lot of effort and more than an hour to complete, I’m more likely to set it aside until I have more time. Which never seems to happen for some reason.

As character flaws go, I don’t think procrastination is so bad. Not as bad as, say, greed or arrogance. Or envy. I don’t have any of those flaws, although I do envy the nonprocrastinators who start a task and stick with it to completion. Man, I really envy those people.

Here’s something to chew on. I recently read that “character flaws keep good people from becoming great people.”

Really? So by that logic, if I were to finish all of my hanging-chad projects and never procrastinate again, I would be a much better person. In fact, I would be a great person.

That’s something I’ll have to think about tomorrow.