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Around the Bluhmin’ Town

9/29/16

Judy Bluhm

My motto? Why do something today when you can put it off until tomorrow? Okay, I suppose that makes me a procrastinator. I had to laugh out loud when a medical journal recently ran a four-page article about “the dangers of procrastination.” They made it sound as bad as a war, cancer or murder. Hey, just because a majority of Americans seem to put things off and it costs the national gross product about 50 billion bucks a year, what’s the big deal? Most things, quite frankly, can wait.

The ten-year study on the “alarming” ill effects of procrastination was published in Psychological Bulletin last year. Did you know that procrastination makes people poorer, unhappier and fat? Poorer because we file taxes late or don’t achieve to our potential and unhappy because we get stressed over putting things off (like taxes). Fat? It seems overweight folks keep planning on exercising “tomorrow.”

I am very suspicious that a study on procrastination took ten years. Sounds like a whole lot of “putting things off” occurred in order to drag out something so obvious, so completely simple and as basic as human nature. We were born to procrastinate! People are universally connected by the “do it later gene” that causes us to “put off” the unpleasant tasks that lurk in the future. Why do chores when you can enjoy a football game? Why exercise when you can go have lunch? Why clean out your closet when you can go shopping? Why deal with conflict when you can watch television?

What causes a majority of taxpayers to wait until April 15 to file? Why do so many people die without a will? How is it that people suddenly get motivated to fix up their homes the week before they are ready to move? Why do we avoid making dental appointments? Why do we get so easily distracted when a mundane task awaits us? Because, Dear Readers, we were born to procrastinate. It’s not a problem – it’s our birthright! Okay, so maybe there are a few unintended consequences.

 The scientific study claims that thirty-five percent of Americans claim to be “chronic procrastinators” and another twenty-five percent have a “mild” affliction towards “putting things off.”  Evidently, there are too many distractions. Email, movies, internet, food, television, errands, texting and telephone calls are a few of the creative ways that we can avoid the tasks we don’t want to do. One example of “critical procrastination” is the study of a group of business people who can spend roughly six hours a day performing “non-essential functions” in order to avoid doing thirty minutes of “meaningful work.” Hey, isn’t that how some large companies are run?

A forty-eight year old woman in Anthem stated that her chronic procrastination caused her to “put off” starting a family until it was too late. When it comes to “waiting until tomorrow,” there are endless stories about how people put their health and well-being in jeopardy by postponing things. From doctor appointments to getting life insurance, human beings tend to wait until there’s a crisis to get motivated. Have you been thinking about getting a home security system? Wait until you are burglarized. That’s when seventy-five percent of folks make the call to have one installed. 

Are children learning how to procrastinate from their parents? If there is two weeks notice that a science project is due, why is the whole family scrambling the night before? Kids learn quickly that the best work is done under pressure. A looming deadline makes us all think, talk, walk and work a little faster. Oh, and if you’re still not sure whether you are a procrastinator, take a look in your garage. If you have more than five boxes stashed away from the last move that you haven’t looked at in a year, you, my friend, are a procrastinator.

I have so much more to say…but my deadline for this column is in one minute. Until next week…try not to put off until tomorrow what should be done today. Procrastination? Let’s worry about it later.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.