Procrastination

There’s always something to do first. Something that needs to get done before I can get to the meat of what I really want to do. Should I find the perfect album to put on the stereo before I start painting the walls in my house? Should I buy a house so I have a comfortable place to write? I can’t write until I have that done. Maybe I should go get some lunch, and when I do that I’ll start that book I was planning on reading.

This has always been a big hurdle for me. Usually my daydreams aren’t about wild success or traveling to interesting places. They’re about finding a perfect grassy field, hanging my hammock from a tree, and laying down to read a book. I think that’s really what I want: a comfortable existence with no stress. Just time to lay around, maybe write, or go surf some, or sit in a bar and generally be lazy.

Laziness has its merits, too. I’m an engineer by trade, but I’m convinced that most good engineers, the ones who are really talented and can see the world for how it should be, are some of the laziest people ever. Engineering gives them an outlet through which a machine, process, or program can do work FOR them, instead of having to do it themselves. “If only I could get something to do this piece of work for me,” they say, “then I won’t have to do it myself.” The time they free up allows them to lay around in a grassy field or work on a more complicated project (or write!). (For this reason, if I’m ever a manager and a prospective employee tells me that one of their strengths is laziness they’ll be hired on the spot.)

What I’ve noticed, though, and probably shouldn’t be shocked by, is that I spend more time thinking about doing something, and what I can do to put off doing something, than it would take to simply do that thing. So I’m going to work on doing it, whatever it happens to be.

Or building a machine that can do it for me. But either way, I’m doing something. Whatever you want to do, just make sure you’re actually DOING that, and not just thinking about it.

Photo: From a drive across Florida last summer, from West Palm Beach to Tampa. Florida has wonderfully minimailstic terrain. 

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