On waiting until the very (and I mean VERY) last minute….

Confession: I am a chronic procrastinator.

I always have been. I blame it on my ability to function extremely well under pressure and stress. I do some of my best work on a serious time-crunch. If someone gives me a deadline, I manage to push the work to the very last minute. But I wonder if the stress and procrastination go not only hand-in-hand, but are cyclical? Do I procrastinate only to become unduly stressed thereby producing amazing work? What would happen if I planned more appropriately and gave myself time to do a really bang-up job? Would the quality of the work be the same? Worse? Better?

In a meeting at work several weeks ago, my boss made the comment, “If it can be done now, just do it and be done with it.”

I have a “bad” habit of being very efficient at the office so I often have to push things off so that I have something to do tomorrow. But ever since the Boss Man made that comment, I’ve been working in that manner. So what has that done for the quality of my work?

It’s better. I know that may seem not at all shocking to some of you. In fact, some may be saying, “Of course it’s better! Why wouldn’t it be?” It seems like a purely logical conclusion to come to, but for someone that has worked her entire professional life under serious pressure, I wasn’t really sure how quitting procrastination cold-turkey would affect me.

One of the most stressful projects of my year came to a close yesterday. There are a few loose ends that I need to tie up, but about 90% of the work is complete. Not once did I feel pressure or stress. I just did my job (and a little more than was asked of me, or SHOULD be asked of me) and everything went incredibly smoothly. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but taking the time to get ahead of the game proved invaluable for this project. For the last few years, I’ve been doing these projects as I was taught to do them, which involved pushing things to the last minute and basically running about like a headless chicken. What a completely ridiculous use of my time, don’t you think?

And so I now find myself about six months “ahead of the game.” I feel substantially more in control of my work life which is beginning to make a nice transition into my school life. It’s a little harder there as I have spent the last eleven years pushing projects and papers to the last minute. It’s taking time to get rid of the procrastination there, but I’m finding myself doing things immediately, more and more often. It’s quite a nice change of pace.

The only arena that is still being plagued by my chronic procrastination is that of packing up our house to move. But that’s just because packing and moving are like my personal seventh inner circle of hell.

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