Years ago, in a lunge at productivity and a fit of resistance to what Brits call "shagging the dog," I bought a book about procrastination. The book's foreword alone made me feel so fired up to change my habits that I put it away, then lent it to a friend who was also having trouble with putting off things. Such is the nature of procrastination. The book probably had an initial press run of one copy, since the publisher and author must have known that it would be partly read, then lent to someone else, who would hand it off to someone else ad infinitum. No one can make a living writing about procrastination since the target audience, while motivated to read the book and make the suggested changes in habit, usually feel that the purchase of the book is equal to the reading of it.

A combination of good weather, tending to the dogs, clipping magazine articles for filing (later), re-organizing the CD collection, lint-runs around the carpet, mirror cleaning, and re-potting plants all add to the problem of completing the project at hand. That's what's happening today. Procrastinators often get better ideas for the extension of the process from other procrastinators as the solutions themselves are expansive, exponential, and often brilliant.

Robert Benchley wrote a delightful article in the 1930's called "How I Get Things Done," which is a paean to the practice. I cut it out for safekeeping, but it is lost in the big file I have collected for years called "Ideas." I'll dig it out one of these days and try his approach. I remember that it seemed to work for him.

I have no fewer than six projects going at once in this office. It would be ideal to have six separate rooms with six different computers for dashing about adding to each project little by little, each room with a new state of mind residing there, all the while simultaneously getting in a little exercise. But then a shroud descends, and the patio looks better, and then there are weeds, and sweeping, and tidying up, and a cigar in the meantime.

Right at this moment, I am going to floss and brush again, then go read to my son's fourth-grade class. Then we'll come home, and we'll all watch SpongeBob, who is a model for industriousness. Then I'll play tug-of-war with the dogs, fix dinner, and wrestle with the unfocused anxiety that is the gift of such a day. I'll do better, I promise myself. Right after Law and Order.


  1. Please find that article and scan it! (Robert Benchley, "How I Get Things Done.")


  2. Here's a link, MC.


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