It’s hard to think of yourself as an adrenaline junkie when your idea of a good time is kicking back to watch a sporting event or a movie.
Still, we could feel our hearts pumping Saturday morning. A mix of fear and inspiration hit, and we couldn’t be prouder of ourselves. My wife, my children and I finished their 4-H projects for the upcoming county fair.
To be clear, they received the materials for these projects months ago. They should have worked on them throughout the year. They’ve been off school a few weeks, so, they could have completed them during the days while my wife and I worked.
They didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. And before I get too preachy, I should note I also had the opportunity to file this column any time prior to Saturday afternoon, yet I waited for inspiration and desperation to strike me.
Before my wife could judge me, she had to acknowledge she had a few work projects this week that waited until the last minute too. Apparently when a procrastinator marries a procrastinator (whenever they finally get around to that), the resulting children have an above-average chance of being procrastinators too.
And as it turns out, we’re not alone. In surveys, 95 percent of people admit to procrastinating, according to research by University of Calgary researcher Piers Steel. And of those, nearly a quarter of them say it’s a defining characteristic. He also noted 54 percent of all procrastinators are male. He confirms that 50 percent of people are genetically influenced, meaning it really is my fault my kids procrastinated.
The worst part of being someone who puts things off is the slew of excuses you make. I’ve convinced myself that I work better with a deadline looming. It’s part of what drew me to work at a daily newspaper. It’s what pushes me to have hourly deadlines for different tasks throughout the week, to keep myself moving.
Whatever the task, whether it’s planning what goes in Sunday’s newspaper or updating the cover photo on The Lima News’ Facebook page, it’s on my task list, and it seems impossible to do any of them until within an hour of the time I’ve determined they should be done.
It’s a horrible way to live life. You’re constantly stressing yourself. You become overwhelmed with what’s ahead of you. It seems hopeless sometimes.
And that’s how my children seemed to feel about filling out their books for 4-H. The reality is they’d already done most of the work. They just put off the dull part, filling out the paperwork.
Or, as author Stephen Covey calls it, they have an urgency addiction. They put it off because it didn’t seem rewarding enough on its own. It wasn’t urgent yet. They had to wait until a deadline because, as he writes, “we become dependent on it for a sense of excitement and energy.”
Guilty as charged. The whole experience has me second-guessing how I run my life. Why wait until tomorrow to do something I have time to do today? It’s definitely something worth figuring out … tomorrow.