Just Sayin’: The Fine Art of Procrastination

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Ah, the fine art of procrastination. It is an art, you know.

And there are rules; very important ones. Admittedly, the rules and the art are usually only known to the perpetrator. How do I know all this? Because I, for one, have been a practicing member of this club from very early in my life. Oh yes, I showed great promise as a procrastinator of the first degree from a very early age.

As a child, getting ready for school (about first grade, I think), I remember my mother calling from the kitchen, “Adrienne, have you made your bed (insert: brush teeth, comb hair, ad infinitum)?” to which I would reply, as any good procrastinator would, “In a minute, I’m tying my shoes.”

See, here’s the rule: If something legitimate needs to be done, you have to have a legitimate excuse for not doing it right now. In this case, it had to be acceptable to my mother as something that needed to be done eventually. The reality here was that I was probably either reading, or just staring out the window. I do that a lot, even now.

Speaking of staring out the window. I distinctly remember one day in the fourth grade when I was taking a math test. The papers were handed out and everyone got to work . . . but wait . . . there’s a bird making a nest in that tree . . . oh, I guess I’d better put my name on the paper . . . but oh, look, there’s another twig in the nest.

I never did any of the math problems, but hey, my name was on the paper. And I don’t remember feeling guilty about flunking the test, either.

Yup, I’m that student who is up until 4 a.m typing the final draft on her term paper because I wanted to finish reading a novel. Or the one who’s always squeaking in barely on time because I wanted to research the lyrics on a song and got lost in Wikipedia.

But what does one do when one only has one’s self to crack the whip? That’s when you have to rely on outside obligations to motivate your time line.

I discovered, very early in my teaching career, that if I would make some off-hand suggestion early in the school year — about some trip or festival that we needed to prepare for — the kids and/or their parents would expect me to make the proper preparations in a timely manner. They didn’t let me forget it. They saw to it that I was very motivated to accomplish preparations on an acceptable schedule. It’s amazing how kids can do that — even your own kids.

As I said, the same rule holds with your own kids. If you promise them something, you’d better follow through, whether it’s a promise of Disneyland or discipline. Whereas your mother might try to not nag, children have no such compunction. With kids they usually, very early, hone nagging into a real skill. It goes right along with whining.

With children you learn very quickly that if you do very many, “We’ll do it tomorrows,” you soon run out of tomorrows.

Since retirement, I’ve gotten really good at, “I don’t wanna!” It took a little coaxing getting used to that mind-set without feeling guilty. And to be sure, I do get caught red-handed sometimes. Such as when someone comes to the door around noon and I’m sitting at the computer, still in my pj’s.

Apparently, I’ve learned to cope with the guilt, or maybe I just never was a good ‘guilt host’ anyway. Either way, guilt is another one of those things I never got around to. And that’s just fine with me.

Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes … she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.

Adrienne Jacoby
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years. A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes … she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.
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15 Responses

  1. Avatar CoachBob says:

    I was gonna comment on this post but I’ll wait ’till Thanksgiving…..or,, as the song says, “Manana” xoxo

  2. AJacoby AJacoby says:

    Ahhhh yes . . when a contractor’s bid states, “Done by Thanksgiving,” be sure that includes the year!!

  3. Avatar Lyra says:

    I think you’ve nailed it! I also think the no guilt is just realizing we’e too overextended in this western culture… Let it go!

  4. Avatar Jan Gandy says:

    “Outside obligations”? Isn’t that why we retired? And now, back to my puzzle . . .

  5. Avatar Stan says:

    I haven’t had much of problem with this. If I tell someone I’m going to do something, I do it. If it doesn’t happen, I feel guilty even if I got sick. I always kept my word to my kids. They are in their 40’s now and they are not procrastinators. Oh yeah, I do procrastinate some, but it’s to myself. Like cleaning out files and stuff like that. I do wish that I didn’t have the guilt stuff though. The one thing I can say for sure is if you’re retired, don’t over-commit if you have problems with guilt. 🙂

  6. People are always telling me, I should do x, y, or z. Instead of giving excuses, which they counter on, I now simply say, “It is on my list.” We all have “that” list.

  7. Avatar Eddie Sherman says:

    Today I determined that it would be easier to put off repairing a neighbors snow blower, till spring, after finding out it was a stinky gas job. He was happy for me to do it then, as I will blow the snow off his place with my snow blower, we have not had snow much, so I am hoping that it will take less time to do it myself, rather than fix the problem now.
    In the end its a win win situation. The neighbor wins due to my procrastination efforts.
    Anyway AJ, Sheila and I look forward to your ” Just Sayin ” it your way every month, keep up the good thoughts. LOL to you.

  8. Avatar Gerard says:

    Very fun read, AJ. How in the whirled did you ever get around to writing it?
    Glad you’re straying amused.

  9. Avatar Charlotte Brothwell says:

    Yes, Girlfriend! One of my favorite religions. Procrastination, that is! Wasn’t it you that first told me the apt reasoning “if it wasn’t for the ‘last minute’, nothin’ would ever git dun!! There’s another part of this conundrum which seems to have a profound affect on me. That is, something commonly referred to as ADD or ADHD. Or, as we refer to it in our family – the “but firsts”. I, too, can find anything and nothing to keep me from doing something I don’t particularly feel like doing. However, if something such as your article peaks my interest and spirit, I can and will get right on it and leave all the mundane things of life for a later date. This response is my effort to procrastinate in getting my tail to bed. G’nite. P. S. Gerard, I love your response. Very clever.

  10. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    I am a pro at crastination. I wonder if I’ll ever reform to rookie-crastination level.

  11. Avatar Ginny says:

    I write to three prisoners; one I know personally, the others I do not, and all in different prisons, with two in one state, yet not the other. I found this column of your may just hit the spot for them. Each week when I send letters, I try to find something that just may be the key for them to turn themselves around. Sometimes it is nothing more than a few words, but other times a good article, sometimes from a PhD, or someone with a sense of humor. This hit the spot for this week!

    Thank you!

  12. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    Ahhhhhh . . . as I wrote in some previous blog, passing on bits of information one has share is a true touch of mortality. Happy t9o be of service. Hope something clicks.