Procrastination: the devil's handiwork!
As I would happily, disingenuously concede to a prospective employer were I ever to interview for a job again (probably not gonna happen!), I have several minor flaws as a human being. I care too much. I do too good of a job. And, perhaps most devastatingly, I’m just too much of a perfectionist.
Of course, those are all “flaws” that are not actually flaws at all. They’re admirable qualities. In actuality, my biggest shortcoming is procrastination. I have a terrible tendency to procrastinate and this has done a lot of damage to me professionally. My direct messages on Facebook and Twitter are a swampy morass of possibly important posts from people I respect and admire that I never read or returned.
I always fall into the same pattern. I’ll get an email potentially heralding something big or important or timely and think, “My goodness, I can’t look at this now. I’ll have to wait until I am mentally prepared for anything, and everything that might be contained within it.” I don’t open potentially important messages immediately, or soon, really out of some combination of nerves, superstition and pessimism. Then, by the time I have mustered up the confidence to want to address these things I’ve been putting off, there’s an additional pressure that creates a self-defeating circle; I can’t deal with these things until the time is right, and the time will never be right because I fear that each message will be a Pandora’s Box unleashing terrible, unwanted news into my life, and as a freelance pop culture writer, bad news ain’t exactly a stranger to me.
I kick myself whenI think about the kind of damage I might have done by procrastinating, but there’s nothing to be gained from self-flagellation and much to be gained from forgiving yourself so you can move forward. I generally find that when I finally do get around to tackling something I’ve put off it’s no big deal. My inbox is not littered with land mines. It's not the land of wind and ghosts. It’s a pretty benign place, all things considered, but the apocalyptic part of my brain nevertheless feels like it has to shield me from upsetting news, rejection or disappointment by sabotaging me under the guise of protecting me.
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve toiled all my career under tight deadlines, for 18 years as a staff writer, two as a full-time freelancer (where I really had the loosest and least frequent deadlines) and for two months as Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place (I am both a small businessman, I mean a really, really, really, like, do I even need to file for an LLC? small businessman, and a really, really, really small business, man). That will instill some self-discipline, especially as my hallmark during those increasingly foggy, distant days when I was somehow employable was my voluminous output. Like Tyler Perry and Master P’s in-house production team, Beats by the Pound, I was known for both my quantity and quality.
When you have to write, for example, between twelve and fourteen original articles a week, as I have being doing for the site, you can’t be too fancy or precious. I am pretty much always creating at this point, and there are days when I write three or four articles of some ambition and scope, and still feel like there are important things that I am not getting around to.
But I’ve been blessed to always have to write a lot, and to enjoy writing a lot, and to see having to write a lot pretty much constantly as an incredibly rewarding challenge that has so far been taxing me to the full extent of my abilities and energies, but not to the point of madness.
The things I dread and put off may terrible. They may be Norbit and Dinesh D’Souza-self-deLusiona-palooza but I get something creatively and emotionally out of enduring these things. I have a strange skill set built upon doing things other people won’t and trying to see things in them that others don’t.
My predilection for procrastination doesn’t come out of nowhere. There is a lot of shitty news out there in a world where Donald Trump is President and John Ossoff, the Boy Wonder of my district, was just defeated by the rich version of a mean lunch lady. But I need to face whatever the world has for me, and there really is nothing to be gained and a lot to be lost by putting off the essential.
So I am going to stare this toxic, self-defeating personal shortcoming down and defeat it by finally reading and answering all the emails I’ve put off for one reason or another. But I might get to it Friday instead, or maybe even next week, and even that’s already looking a little too packed.
Maybe next month?
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