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Musings from the Ledge: The art of procrastination

By |  April 2, 2021 0 Comments
Alan FitzGerald (Photo: Fernando Gaglianese)

Alan FitzGerald
(Photo: Fernando Gaglianese)

Winter is the time of the year where I burn through my unused vacation time, and due to COVID and doing practically nothing in 2020, I had a lot to take this winter. Between the usual winter stuff of the holidays, working on the house and, this year, nursing a shoulder injury — in the extra time that I had, I found myself wandering down more and more Facebook and YouTube rabbit holes.

It’s so easy to be reading a magazine on the iPad, see a reference that I am not 100 percent sure of and end up an hour later having learned some completely unrelated random information. Heaven forbid I click on a Facebook video, as minutes later I am watching ships crash (strangely calming watching something so big and slow hit something) or crazy Russian drivers doing their thing or some random standup comedian, all of which I suddenly cannot get enough of.

And then, thanks to the tech overlords’ algorithms, they will throw in something new like a TED Talk to keep me sucked in. One of these really struck a chord with me, largely because I instantly related to it: “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” by Tim Urban. You’re welcome for the rabbit hole I have just sent you down.

That title was enough to draw me in, but I quickly realized he was actually talking about me, not to me (and, let’s face it: It proves that Facebook knows more about me than I do). Except for writing these columns, I have never missed a deadline. Saying that, I have always found that no matter how much preparation I have put in, I am still cramming at the 11th hour. Take, for example, the 9-hole golf course we had to “irrigate” for my irrigation class at Penn State. The Saturday night before it was due, I am standing in the lobby of the dorm with multiple sets of drawings taped to the glass lobby door (the only spot big enough to display the sheets) with a bright light behind it so that I could easily trace my hard points to each layer. As 2:30 a.m. rolled around, and the revelers returned home, it created a lot of “that’s a cool major” coupled with an incoherent conversation.

Thankfully, due to that bit of resourcefulness saving a lot of time, the only consolation of missing my Saturday night was that I rested easy on Sunday and aced the class on Monday. In reflection, I am still impressed at those moments of ingenious clarity when I was younger, even if they were caused by panic.

This is what I related to in the TED Talk — a sudden realization that we need panic stations to kick in to get a project done. The instant gratification monkey that sucks me down the interweb wormholes (which, ironically, is how I found the video …) might be in control more than I expected. Then, the panic monster steps in, and all is saved (these characters will make a lot more sense if you watch the video). When Seth asked me to write for Golfdom, we discussed my ideas for the column, and I felt that I had no problem in getting several written within a year — but we both made the mistake of not setting a monthly deadline. And, hence, my procrastination and failure to get them out in a timely manner.

It turns out we are all procrastinators to some extent; we enjoy living life and trying not to worry about things until we must. These things don’t have to be a Golfdom column or an irrigation project due on Monday, but this simple concept can make you a better person and manager — how can we expect ourselves or others to be successful if we don’t set goals or deadlines? If you have nothing to aim for, you’ll never attempt to reach it.

Now, all I have to do is make sure my columns are in by the print deadline … let’s see how well I do next month!

This article is tagged with and posted in Columns, Current Issue, From the Magazine

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