[note to self: insert picture here later]
I want you take a moment and think about every lesson or moral you’ve taken away from a book, movie, or television show. There’re things like don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be an asshole, don’t be a racist, embrace your strange personality unless of course you’re an assholy racist, family is most important, diversity is most important, love is all you need, one tiny person can make a difference, dark wizards must die- I could go on. There’s not much out there that teaches us hapless humans not to waste our time. Sure, there are things like cancer stories that advertise how important it is to live each day to its fullest, but that could mean an endless world of pointless possibilities. What if your idea of a fulfilling activity is scrolling through Tumblr, or bingeing on Netflix, or playing Candy Crush? (curse you, evil Candy Crush) If anything, some of those enlightening works of carpe diem tend to show us not to take work too seriously; there are more important things in life. But the fact of the matter is, unless you’re retired or lucky enough to have a mandatory recess penciled into your pre-school schedule, sometimes, sh*t needs to get done.
Let me tell you why something like “compulsive procrastinator” is rarely found in a protagonist’s character bio: no one wants to watch someone procrastinate. No one even wants to root for someone who’s constantly procrastinating. When I was younger, in an effort to force myself to journal on a regular basis, I pictured a room full of people who existed only to read my words as I wrote them down, and the longer I put off entries, the more they sat tapping their toes and checking their watches, growing irritated with their sole source of stimulation. As I grew older, my audience theory faded away as imaginary friends do. Outside of school deadlines, I found less and less reasons to sit myself down and get to work. Now, this may not be the greatest detail to share on a blog I share with prospective employers, but hey, the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting you have a problem.
So here I am, and I’m not alone, based on what I know of Tumblr peers, post-grad peers, and heck, even members of congress at the moment. But I’m not here to make this political. Tumblr though, is one big support group for procrastination addicts, because it most certainly could be treated as an addiction, and much like Sex Addicts Anonymous, the support group supplies the drug. Everything you could ever want to stimulate your senses can be found on Tumblr. Photography, illustrations, trivial or intellectual fun facts, Harry Potter gifs, Breaking Bad gifs, kitten gifs, intelligent debates on the pronunciation of “gif”, pornography— mind you, aforementioned prospective employers, these are not necessarily my personal picks of poison, but if the metaphorical “killing time” was a physical crime, these would all get round up as prime suspects.
But while we’re touching on the subject of pornography (see what I did there?), let me remind you of an ancient proverb I’m sure you all remember from the days of witty AIM away messages: Procrastination is like masturbation; it feels good at first, then you realize you’re only screwing yourself.
Sheer brilliance in such a crude little anecdote! Here’s the thing, though, about addiction, and the very reason I label it as such: in spite of the realization that you are screwing yourself…it still feels pretty good. I get a noticeable rush of endorphins when I type “f-a…” into a search bar and up pops Facebook. Sure, that important to-do list will get tackled eventually, but for now, I lean back, put my feet up, grab some chips, and scroll to my heart’s content in this cozy, Candy-crushing, worry-free world!
Here’s my current and ever expanding list of “to-do’s” better known to me as “sh*t I’m currently procrastinating on”:
- Writing a script
- Editing another script
- Editing a music video I shot in July
- Editing a web video my friends shot in January
- Editing a video of my first trip to Disneyland, which honestly might get scrapped since it’s been a month now and the magic has faded
- Switching banks
- Sewing a bag for a friend
- Fixing the crotch hole in my skinny jeans. This one’s time sensitive as WINTER IS COMING!
- Fixing the zipper on my wallet. It’s been broken for probably over a year now and would take ~2 seconds to fix. It’s just a couple stitches and bam, fixed. In the time it took me to write about this zipper, I could have fixed the goddamned thing.
- Buying a new backpack as my old one is beyond repair.
- Posting more of my Etsy stuff on Tumblr. Shameless plug, I’ll admit.
- Catching up on Breaking Bad.
- Getting a California license. I realize this is super important, but then so is patience for a good hair day.
- Fixing my bike gears
- Writing this post. I feel obligated to add that, as it’s been a while since the conception of this post. Three weeks ago I told my boyfriend I wanted to write a post for my blog about procrastination but I kept putting it off, and he thought I was just doing a bit. I’ve had a text post in my draft folder for months with just the title “Pro-procrastination-nation” You didn’t think I’d come up with an ingenious title like that in the last minute, did you? No sir. (The “nation” part isn’t even in reference to the current shutdown…that’s honestly just a coincidence. There’re just so many of us loud and proud underachievers that I thought I’d give our group a title of sorts. But I digress.)
Next is a list of the “nonsense” I’ve instead occupied myself with:
- Browsing through Facebook photos of people I went to school with >8 years ago.
- Endlessly scrolling my Tumblr dashboard.
- Trolling tags while waiting for my dash to update.
- Reading Buzzfeed
articleslists that typically include kittens, Harry Potter Nerdisms, or books that every 20something must read.
- Reading only the first paragraph in the kindle sample of books that every 20something must read.
- Then going back to Facebook.
- Browsing my own Facebook photos and imagining what people I went to school with all those years ago would think about me.
- Planning conversations we’ll have at the reunion when I’m famous.
- The occasional sudoku.
- Friends Re-runs. Can you blame me? Breaking Bad is so stressful!
- Baking cookies from recipes I found on Pinterest.
- Candy. F*cking. Crush.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Millions of us are suffering, and we’re suffering together. I’m not saying this to make you feel better; I’m saying it to light a fire under your butt. The fact that there are so many of us often serves as procrastination validation, but in truth, to deadline-happy outsiders, it just makes us look bad.
Compulsive procrastinators are deemed lazy, unmotivated, and basically all other adjectives used in Joel Stein’s Time article about millennials (note: this is not to say that only millennials are procrastinators or vice versa, though at times it’s made to look that way). The truth is, as if I need to tell you, there’s a messy chalk board full of reasons behind someone’s procrastinating tendencies; reasons that are far from laziness. There’s perfectionism, self-doubt, misguided ambition, and others I won’t bother listing because again, validation is not my intent.
So how about some solutions. Well, should you really take advice from a recovering addict? Answer: no. You shouldn’t take advice from anyone. Think about that for a sec. I mean, we’re each one of a very chaotic and diverse breed, and to look at someone and think “well, it seems to be working just fine for them” is true laziness and honestly, it’s what got you in this position in the first place. THANKS, TUMBLR.
I did, however, promise a procrastinating protagonist. A procrastonist, if you will. So for those of you who care about keeping promises, trust that I’ll get through this just like as any studio-made quirky girl pulls themselves out of a pickle toward the end of act II: with a musical montage of itty bitty baby steps. It’s the itty bitty that’s important, because you don’t gotta go cold turkey to do something significant. Knock one thing off of your “To-do’s” or “Nonsense” lists each day, and never look back, no matter how many Candy Crush invites you get. Set an example— not to other people, because again, lazy, and also, to be honest, we procrastinators can’t stand punctual junkies …punckies—but set an example to yourself. If each day is just slightly more productive than the last, there’s no way you’re going back, because if there’s one thing us procrastonists are good at, it’s habit-forming.
Now for my dénouement, I’m off to delete Candy Crush from my life once and for all. But then again, maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. One more little game couldn’t hurt.
[Hand shoots out of grave. SCREAM. Roll credits.]