I know that it’s bad. I know that there are people (I would like to meet these people, maybe get them to sing into a seashell or something so I can steal their essence) who can just put a task down in front of them and work on it until it is completed to the best of their abilities. They see life as a series of manageable obstacles that, if chipped away it reasonably, won’t completely dictate the trajectory of their day-to-day life. For me, however, there is yet to be an activity that cannot be made approximately 600 times more difficult by being put off until the last minute. Work, errands, social engagements — they are all ripe for the ignoring.
And strangely enough, when I am in the throes of waiting on something until tomorrow, there is almost no limit to the other things I can do. Let’s say there is a big work project that awaits me: Time to clean my entire apartment from top to bottom. Need to go get a haircut? Why not go to the grocery store and then go for a relaxing stroll through my city to catch up on all the cultural stuff I’ve been missing? You see, it’s only when I have something that I actually need to get done that I suddenly find the energy and motivation to do all of the other things that I normally don’t even think about. My bookshelf is never more organized than when I have some paperwork that needs to be filled out.
Please, society, please do not give me things that don’t have a distinct timeline. If you give me a project to work on “at my own pace” for a given number of weeks or, God forbid, months — that is simply code for “enjoy not getting any work done on this until the night before you have to turn it in.” It’s a cruel system of personal management that one imagines would be left behind in the term paper-heavy world of academia, but can often manifest itself in the professional world. I have been writing a book for the last six months, and have often considered putting an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to stand over my desk with a bag of gummi bears and feed me one like a beloved housepet every time I reach a goal in my work.
There is part of me that is almost slightly addicted to the feeling of procrastinating. I like to say “I work well under pressure,” but it is more apt to say that I don’t know what to do with myself until Father Time is mouth-breathing down the back of my neck and holding a pocket watch up to my ear while laughing condescendingly. It’s just, there’s so much time! And so many other things I could be doing besides my work! And what is better than the feeling of being tweaked out on Red Bulls and coffee at the end of a long night of half-coherent scribbling, on the verge of tears because you finally managed to get it all done? That is a taste of true human triumph.
I know that it is a sign of maturity to be able to do things in a responsible order, and I often look at “adults” who balance children, work, a social life, and having sex around once a month and think, “How?” This doesn’t seem possible. People who have things like mortgages and Volvos cannot spend all their precious work time looking at YouTube videos of pomeranian puppies barking at things. They have their shit together, and at some point I’m going to have to learn the concept of time management. But what does one do?
Let me get this straight: You have a Sunday. On this day, you have to finish up a project, go to the hairdresser, pick up your groceries, drop some stuff in the mailbox (this, of course, implies you made the time to buy stamps at some point??), and go meet a friend for lunch. And you’re supposed to get all of this done over the course of, say, 12 hours — because obviously you’re the kind of person who gets a full eight hours of sleep and then eats Greek yogurt and muesli for breakfast. This does not seem realistic. Ending up scrapping all of that and spending the day watching Netflix in your underwear eating noodles seems far more feasible.
Perhaps it means I will always be a child, but I can’t talk about that right now. I have some chocolate-covered pretzels to eat while I work on this coloring book. I’m busy.