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Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox

Chatterbox: 1,400 times a day


It’s important to talk about procrastination.
We’ve talked about it at Chatterbox before. I once stated that, “Procrastination is the thief of achievement and rationalization is a ‘one size fits all’ deterrent to success.” It’s true. It’s also true that we all procrastinate; most of us do it very often.
I don’t believe that we put off doing things because we’re just lazy or even prefer to do other things. Certainly, there are always things we’d rather do than clearing out the garage or emptying the attic, but when we really do want to get that project done, why is it we often, even repeatedly, just don’t?
Suddenly, one day, we’re moving and we realize we have six roasting pans that are exactly alike. Sure, they’re in great shape and maybe we think we use them … maybe we do use all of them for different reasons … maybe even all at once, for parties … big parties … the kind of parties we have once every six years. No one likes disposables, but in cases like the roasting pan parade, it may be wise.
Getting around to dealing with our stuff and those jobs we hate is usually far more important than the roasting pan round-up and, yet, we procrastinate; we fail. Sometimes, they’re not even “jobs.” Sometimes, they are things that are actually pleasant or important. Whatever the delay issue is, it seems to be quite common among humans.
So many times have we said, or heard someone say, “You ought to write a book.” At Chatterbox, we’ve talked a few times about how everyone’s life is a book. Some people’s lives are uniquely interesting. When my foster brother became a surgeon, I had beautiful journals handmade for him, just to jot even a brief note about each day. I hope he did it; priceless. Still, every day is priceless to the generations behind us; we talked about that very recently.
If we think about it just for a moment (and I am just as guilty as the next person), procrastination is as deadly to our success as any other negative behavior whether earth shattering or personal. Most of us plan, work and sacrifice many things, in order to achieve our life goals and avoid so many behaviors that do, or could, impede our progress. Yet, we allow procrastination to steal so many of the accomplishments we crave. It may be only small goals, but they are, sometimes, things that affect us on the daily.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I never know why I put things off, especially things that are very important to me, perhaps have long been so, and are things I truly want to do … want to accomplish.
Often, we say we’ll get around to it when we’re snowed in, or after we retire, or when our calendar isn’t so jammed up. The truth is, though, most of us are fighting the battle of exhaustion much of the time and we are attending to our family, our careers, or just struggling to find time keep up with the laundry and keep our heads above the proverbial water. And then there are those moments – and moments are all we need – to do a job we’ve been putting off. We actually can accomplish big tasks in small clips.
One summer, many years ago, I put one package of photos in an album every night all summer. It never took more than 10 minutes. By the time the summer was over, an entire year of family fun was out of the popcorn tin and on a shelf, booked, labeled with dates, and available for viewing.
Traveling through life at the speed of light, we realize, one day, that we haven’t got the mobility, the physical strength, are truly out of energy or, Heaven forbid, literally are out of time and we didn’t file those photos, journal for our children, or have denied America of her next great novel.
My older son inspired this column. He’s an engineer, husband, and father who also writes music. He wrote, “The clock moved … 1,400 times a day.” (He took poetic license with the number). We need to move with that clock and be inspired by people who accomplish all day ... teachers who restore antiques or doctors who quilt.
It may have to be a minute at a time, but that still gives us 1,440 opportunities a day. We can do it. Life doesn’t wait. We should try not to wait either.