Hurry up and procrastinate
You, too, can become a champion procrastinator
By David Leonhardt
I've been meaning to write this column, but I keep putting it off.
There always seems to be something better or more important or
easier to write about.
Everybody is rushing to enter the contest to find America's
Biggest Procrastinator: (
As an expert in the field, I will help you win the contest. Even
if you are not American, just tell them you you've been meaning
to immigrate. That should actually win you some bonus points.
America is just teeming with procrastinators. Some delay
important surgery. Some people hold off on taking courses or
changing jobs. Others delay household chores. Americans delay
cleaning up and filing. They put off buying a car, washing the
car, selling the car, and even learning to drive the car. Some
even hold off on getting born (That was me. Sorry Mom.).
If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done. And
many Americans have even eliminated that pesky last minute. Dr.
Duit Later explains, "It's a lifestyle choice. A professional
procrastinator delays walking the dog until the last minute. By
then he is busy holding off the lawn mowing. He'll never get to
the mowing, even in the last minute, because he spends that last
minute not cleaning up after the dog. With so much to delay, the
last minute never arrives."
One contestant bought over $15,000.00 of software in the past two
years "to help me with my computer,80% of it is still unopened
and or unused." It might help if he started by removing the
computer from its packaging.
Another contestant describes how "we go to our Wal-Mart bags to
find what we need because we never put them away." I laughed at
that one. I thought that was pretty funny. Ha ha ha. My wife was
not laughing. She pointed to the Costco bags piled high beside
the door. "But those aren't Wal-Mart bags," I protested with all
the conviction of a soggy noodle.
My wife opened the fridge door. "We have soggy noodles. And soggy
buns. And soggy apples. We have a soggy collection. Think it
might be time to clean the fridge?" Sigh. Master procrastinators
are rarely appreciated.
Procrastination has some interesting side effects. A professional
procrastinator always marvels at how clean the restrooms are at
A true procrastinator never gets his Christmas tree up before
Christmas. Unless it's still there from last year, of course.
A skilled procrastinator always reads her mail - but only after
the postman comes up to her apartment to complain. One contestant
finally emptied her mailbox to find mail from six months earlier.
A determined procrastinator goes several years without pouring
his own bathwater or putting out his own garbage. After a while,
the community gets involved.
No true procrastinator shovels snow. The snow will hopefully melt
in a few months.
Even with talented contestants, you can win this contest if you
don't try hard enough.
I thought about entering the contest myself. I delayed college
graduation by several years. I have a dozen jigsaw puzzles still
sealed in their boxes. We have two chandeliers to put
up...someday. The baby probably needs a diaper change. Again. Or
I was just about to enter the contest, when I came up with an
ingenious way to disqualify myself. I offered to put up part of
the second prize, a copy of my book Climb Your Stairway to
Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness. (
With me out of the race, this might finally be the contest you
can win. You see, I know a little secret about all the
contestants - a fatal flaw that makes every one of them
vulnerable. Nobody can legitimately win this year's contest
...unless they enter next year.
To make this column on procrastination authentic, I attempted to
withhold it. But my agent gave me "The Frown". If you ever saw
The Frown, your boots would still be trembling.
So I decided to submit the column uncompleted. Surely that
qualifies as procrastination. But this time my agent gave me "The
Double Frown". That sent shivers down through my toenails.
I considered sending my column in one word at a time, with each
letter cut from a newspaper or magazine like a painfully long
ransom note. But my agent told me about her emergency "death ray"
frown, so I gave up.
But wait! You can make this true procrastination by not reading
any more until next year. Stop reading. If you are still reading,
you are failing to procrastinate. Stop now. If you are not
reading this sentence, congratulations - you are a champion
David Leonhardt writes the Happy Guy humor column:
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