Friday, February 27, 2009

Procrastination and Productivity Both Start with the Letter 'P'

This is going to be a fun weekend. I am on a mad dash to put together the most amazing presentation I have ever presented in my history of presenting, and the clock is ticking with six days left before launch. For over a month I have been surrounded by books, notes, to do lists, flag pens, highlighters (thank you, 3M), and – most importantly – my thoughts and ideas, but I have not hit overdrive until I felt the countdown begin today.

There was something about waking up this morning and being able to say, "My big presentation is one week from today," that made me snap into hyper-productivity-mode. I have now started deciding things, calling people, and drinking an extra cup of coffee every four hours. This is what I live for... It involves thrill, it involves risk, it involves skill, it involves luck... This is the moment when procrastination turns into productivity and slow time turns into go time.

Do you know what I am talking about? Because there are two kinds of people in this world, and you better know which type you are, because that is important to know for things like eHarmony personality tests. There are those people who have the paper done a week in advance, and then there are the people who experiment with No Doze type substances to squeeze the most work out of their soggy brains until the moment the bell rings. You know who you are, right? Because if you are the former, this entry will make you feel uneasy in your stomach and make your palms sweat, but if you are the latter, you will read this with a proud smile that can only be shared by the Fellowship of the Last Minute Miracle-Makers. Now, I will share with you my Procrastinators Résumé...

Top Five Projects in Life 
I Procrastinated on to the Point of Tears:

1) My Yam paper for Religion class. 
Yes, I wrote a five page paper on the religious meaning of yams. When it got to be 5AM and the paper was due in a few hours, I took a shower and dried my hair then called my (poor) mother in the middle of the wee hours to tell her I thought I was going to puke with stress. To this day I highly enjoy purchasing yams from the grocery store and making yam fries. I do not waste my time eating the yam's lame a$$ cousin, the sweet potato. Yams are better for you. [To make yam fries, heat oven to 400 degrees, wash yam(s), poke holes in them with fork, then microwave for 2 minutes. Slice yam(s) into cubes, douse with olive oil and salt, and bake for at least 20 minutes. This recipe pairs nicely with beer].

2) My Building Blocks Village in 1st Grade.
During kindergarten and first grade, I had a bit of a natural eye for architecture. I constructed many small towns and was often involved in urban planning decisions while the other girls were using tree branches to sweep dirt in the playground for playing house. In first grade I embarked on an ambitious project to paint, label, and arrange many wooden blocks into a small village to be glued onto a piece of green plywood. This was a project where I really pushed the boundaries for what was possible in wooden block architecture (i.e. the ice cream shop floated in the middle of the blue felt duck pond). I almost had to ask my first grade teacher for an extension, although I did not really know what that was at the time.

3). My Hip Hop Tap Dance Routine 
One of the highlights of my college career was my Renaissance in dancing. Growing up, my mom had me in dance for a solid decade, where I had the opportunity to learn first-hand about girls boobs and lipstick-stuck-on-teeth smiling for the judges. Anyway, I decided to try out for a spot in this little tap dancing troupe in college, and to my surprise, I got in. Problem was, I had embarrassingly juvenile-looking tap shoes (white with gold bows from my last performance in the 90's). Later my dancer friends told me they did not even know how to react to my babyish tap shoes. Needless to say, I had a lot of catching up to do in order to be able to tap dance like Savion Glover to the tunes of the Beastie Boys. I managed to purchase some cool black tap shoes with laces, but it took me hours and hours of practicing steps outside of rehearsal in order to catch up in my skill level. The only place I could practice was on the  tile floor of the girl's bathroom in my dorm.

4) My Paper on The London Underground (The Tube) During Study Abroad.
I can still taste the sticky sweet canker sores that lined the insides of my cheeks after eating Skittles and downing Mountain Dew all night to hand write my final study abroad paper on The London Underground. Looking back, I now remember that there were two computers available for our entire group of about 20 people, so I begrudgingly wrote a 10 page, single spaced research paper with a smelly erasable pen. While my poor roommate slept and dreamt about her departure home for the States the next day, I scratched out that damn paper, losing my love of mass transit with each pathetically scrawled footnote.

5) Every Single Piano Lesson That Took Place Every Single Week of My Childhood
Harsh, no? Yeah, I am telling you – I am no stranger to the guilt brought on by procrastination as I put off learning my piano pieces every single week of my young life. It did not help that my piano teacher, Greg, was a classical genius at piano. So much so, that he got away with acting weird, like spitting through his teeth and humming while he did his solo performances. I always felt confused and uncomfortable watching those... Anyway, Greg would never fail to hang his head in disappointment as I showed up each week with an elaborate soap opera about how I was too tied up selling Girl Scout Cookies, or that I bent a fingernail backward while pitching at my weekly softball game. Greg - if you are out there – I adore piano to this day, but it was not to be. I learned this the moment my dad put my first guitar in my hands at age twelve. Poor Greg. For some reason, he saw great things in my future as a pianist, but little did he know that my mom had to bribe with a medium Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen each and every week just to get me through the door of the piano studio.
Alas, these are the five major procrastination life events that stick out in my mind at this moment, but if pressed I could share many more. I think there is much to be learned in surviving a procrastination lifestyle, including negotiation techniques and severe-stress-management. 

Studies show that bona-fide procrastinators excel in the highest stress inducing jobs, including:
  • 911 Dispatch
  • Emergency Room Nurse
  • Day Care Provider
  • Flight Attendant on Russian Airlines
  • Press Secretary for Conservative Republican Presidents
  • Fashion Model
  • Zoo Keeper
  • Ice Cream Taste-Tester (apparently the chilliness on the tongue eventually leads to chronic stress)
Gentle reader, in all seriousness please believe me that I understand all too well the guilt and panic that procrastination can bring. If it is any consolation, please remember that I am rooting for you to come out on top. Well, I am rooting for you if you are scurrying in the eleventh hour... if you are one of those kids who gets your paper done early and then asks everyone else if they are done with their papers, well, then you can just go sit on a prickly cactus.

Alright, now. Procrastinators Unite! I know you can do it and get 'er done.



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