The Bitch Slap: On Procrastination

bitch slap procrastinationLong before dinosaurs roamed the earth, before ice ages and asteroids, and certainly as fuck before Sarah Palin ever saw her name on bumper stickers in conjunction with the year 2012, I was destined to be a procrastinator. When the day comes, I’ll put off dying because I have a deadline. I’m a master at finding shit to do when there’s other shit needing to be done and the shit usually getting done isn’t among the most pressing shit on my To Do list.

I’m 38. I likely won’t admit that I’m 39 until I inadvertently lie to someone when they ask my age and I eke out “38” followed by a surprised stare, heart palpitations and the subsequent, “Fuck – I’m 39.”

Given certain events that have graced (?) my life in the past ten months or so (and some in the past few days), it’s a wonder to me that I still find ways to procrastinate given:

  • Life is short (and in many cases, shorter than need be)
  • We’re lucky enough to actually have shit to do (y’know, beyond simple survival)
  • We find ways in all of that shit to ignore the things that are the most important in favor of little shit.

It’s a Bitch Slap of colossal proportions – and I’m the first taker.

Procrastination makes things worse.

If it sucks now, it’s not going to suck any less when we get our asses in gear and get it done. It will probably suck more because you’re now time-crunched and faced with having to delay things you actually want to be doing in favor of getting things done that should have been done long ago. Definitely a winning strategy.

Procrastination doesn’t fix anything.

Yup – that thing you didn’t want to do? It’s still there. Look at it. Beady eyes, drooling jawline worse than an overexerted golden retriever. It’d be prudent to cowboy the fuck up and just get some shit done, dontcha think? Procrastination ruins things: your quality of work, your quality of life, quality of relationships with other people (and those you love). It’s not worthy of classification as a tool and sure as hell doesn’t belong in your tool box. Getting things done is a killer adrenaline rush – procrastination, while a producer of the same adrenaline rush, feels incomparably shitty and leaves us worried, anxious and unable to make decisions that will actually benefit us. It’s the line at the post office on April 15, the parking lot nightmare at malls worldwide on December 24 and the reason we can’t find a fucking turkey over 3 pounds the night before 17 people are due at our home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Procrastination doesn’t foster growth.

Because we keep doing it. It keeps Grudge Drawers full of memorabilia from relationships past, crappy clients hanging on, bills unpaid, taxes lingering and the people we want in our lives most at bay. It’s a rabid Keebler elf, gnawing its way through the meaning of your life (and he doesn’t even leave any Toll House goodness in his wake, the fucker). We can’t move forward if we’re too busy holding a grudge about what’s happened, why it happened and what we need to do in order for it to keep happening again. The United States is a nation adept at procrastination – we foster it through our legislative and political process. We live in four-year cycles of blame instead of taking ownership of the fact that it took hundreds of years to fuck this country up and it’s going to take more than four to get it straight (when it was never straight in everyone’s eyes to begin with).

So whaddaya gonna do?

How about some shit that needs to get done? I have no idea what’s on your list, but kicking procrastination’s ass is both a physical and emotional task. The fact that it took me 2 days to write this blog post is a testament to the power and pull of procrastination. Shit that needs to be done is at odds with shit I want to do. And then there’s the shit I don’t want to do but somehow, it finds itself being done in advance of the needs AND wants, and that’s pretty much bullshit.

Are you afraid of getting the bullshit out of the way so you can actually start living?

Are we terrified of the prospect of getting “caught up” and making room for some downtime?

Do we shudder at the prospect of not chasing the rabid Keebler elf around the office because we’re so used to the routine?

Just think of the people in your life who would love to be able to kick you in the <insert anatomical expletive> because you’re squandering your chance to do something because they can’t do something – because they’re dead. There are people all over this world who spend every resource they have on surviving and we persist with these first world problems (like procrastination) like they’re the DaVinci Code. It’s time that we (me included) started:

  • Getting things done
  • Letting go of things that do us no good
  • Serving those who pay us for our attention
  • and making ourselves emotionally available to the one thing that can make this life a roller coaster worth riding: other people.

None of that involved procrastination. It involves sacking up and owning our own shit. And I acknowledge that this post has had more instances of shits, fucks and whatnots than in general days passed, but it’s hard to call bullshit anything but bullshit and maybe if we stopped calling bullshit “issues” or “challenges,” we’d find a way to deal with those things instead of letting them fester in a bubble-wrapped existence.

So yeah – procrastination can suck it and this is a Bitch Slap. It’s time to stop putting off the things that mean the most in favor of the things we know we need to do, are being paid to do and always knew had to be done. YouTube can wait. The kitchen can stay a mess for another half hour.

Go bang something out and give yourself a high five. Throw away that box of things that brings you nothing but misery every time you open it. Stay up another hour and work. Tomorrrow? A damn fine day awaits and you can start making it happen today. The elf? He can go fuck himself.

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47 replies
  1. Kim Woodbridge
    Kim Woodbridge says:

    I have to admit that I’m not a procrastinator – I’m kind of the opposite.  I also find that when I put something off until the last minute something awful like food poisoning happens to keep me from meeting the deadline.  My motto is “Don’t put off until tomorrow that which you can do today because tomorrow you might feel like crap.”

  2. Bradley
    Bradley says:

    I am a serial procrastinator, but for the past few years, I have been trying to amend my ways. It is tough. There are still lots of days I just say “fuck it”. One area where I try to never procrastinate is with work. I have gotten burned too many times. 

    The unfortunate part is that my boss is a worse procrastinator than I have ever thought of being. It drives me ridiculously insane! 

      • Bradley
        Bradley says:

        That is a good way to put it! It seems like working under pressure is the only way to get him to work at all lately. By lately, I mean the past 3 years or so. 

        My therapist has helped me to realize that I cannot change who he is or what he does. I can only control my actions. Now, I focus on doing my work and meeting my deadlines, and if the boss isn’t there to get his part done… that is his fucking problem! 😀

  3. Kosmicegg777
    Kosmicegg777 says:

    My 10 year old son is cleaning his room to put off reading for an hour. So I had him read the first paragraph of this blog. He laughed his ass off, and said, “Wait – is this for kids?” Then he read, “I’m 38.” LOL. “What’s procrastination, Mom?” Son, it’s waiting until you’re 38 to tell the truth, to read your book for an hour, to discover that you can go on marvelous adventures instead of throwing a deck of cards all over your room to pick up so you don’t have to read.

  4. MegCarpen
    MegCarpen says:

    I think I fall into the “recovering procrastinator” role. I’ve been a long time procrastinator, but recently I’ve been getting that wonderful feeling in my gut that says I need to get something going, and I need to do it now. So, I’m filling my free time with books that make me do things, and building a business I should have started with long ago, instead of fiddling around with things I kinda knew weren’t going to work in the long run, the “letting go of things that do you no good.” My new path is super scary to me, but I’m loving it. But enough goofing around here, I’ve got lots to do!
    As always, thanks for the (much-needed) bitch slap.

  5. Mediamichele
    Mediamichele says:

    It only took you 2 days to write this!#?  I took the course and it still takes me at least a week.  Great reminders of what we MUST do – loved every word.  Thanks again Erika

  6. John Trader
    John Trader says:

    I think that perhaps every member of Congress should read this post because they can certainly learn from it.  I’ve never seen such sad sacks of crap who prioritize bitching about one another rather than solving our problems (debt, taxes, etc.).  They are the epitome of procrastination.  At our expense. 

  7. Truly Organic
    Truly Organic says:

    I have this problem too, I think it’s why I became so good at keeping my house clean. You don’t have to use your brain. However, I recently heard this beautiful thing JFDI – Just Fucking Do It. It’s now attached my computer screen from a green post-it. I’ll keep it forever. I find the more I “Do It” the easier “It” gets. But it’s a hell of a journey to easier. 

  8. Truly Organic
    Truly Organic says:

    I have this problem too, I think it’s why I became so good at keeping my house clean. You don’t have to use your brain. However, I recently heard this beautiful thing JFDI – Just Fucking Do It. It’s now attached my computer screen from a green post-it. I’ll keep it forever. I find the more I “Do It” the easier “It” gets. But it’s a hell of a journey to easier. 

  9. kadeeirene
    kadeeirene says:

    I have this problem too, I think it’s why I became so good at keeping my house clean. You don’t have to use your brain. However, I recently heard this beautiful thing JFDI – Just Fucking Do It. It’s now attached my computer screen from a green post-it. I’ll keep it forever. I find the more I “Do It” the easier “It” gets. But it’s a hell of a journey to easier. 

  10. Annie Sisk
    Annie Sisk says:

    Oh holy hell, yes. Being one of those “productivity bloggers” I am seriously captivated by the Procrastination Pimp. That fucker is every damn where, sucking the money and the soul out of us all. Cowgirl up, indeed, although I’d add that if you don’t get to the root of the fear that empowers your own P-Pimp, you’re doomed to dance with him again and again. (And it’s almost always fear at the root of that dance.) Once again, my dear sister Red, you’ve slapped the shit out of something that richly deserved said slap. Well played!

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for a great post to read while I put off just a little longer the video editing I need to do…. and now I need to go find a cookie. 

  12. Leon Noone
    Leon Noone says:

    G’Day Erika,
    I was positively delighted to find another bitch slap in my inbox. I really need them every so often. Then I saw it was about procrastination and I thought, “I’ll read that later.” Then I thought that if I put off reading it, Erika will come hurtling through the blogosphere, bash me over the back of the head like Jethro in NCIS and spirit away all my Louis Armstrong Hot 5s and 7s CDs.

    Rather than risk that, I read the piece. I was reminded of an excellent spot of advice from Bob Proctor some years back. “Do the thing to get the energy to do the thing.”

    So I’m responding immediately to prove the efficacy of your instruction.


  13. Justin Mckean
    Justin Mckean says:

    When my 39th birthday (last January) came along I decided to just skip to forty. I’m too cool to be in my thirties.

    So are you.

  14. SenorBlinky
    SenorBlinky says:

    The time you enjoy wasting is not necessarily wasted time. Hahaha, that’s what I keep telling myself. I’m such a procrastinator, it took me almost two hours to finish reading this. You make beautiful points, inspired me enough to shake off the laziness and (at the very least) get everything done that’s supposed to get done today. I can already see it’s going to be a brilliant weekend without project stresses hanging over me. My concern is keeping up this… well, diligent behaviour.

    Anyway, thanks, this was fun 😀

  15. Erika Dickstein
    Erika Dickstein says:

    I read this and laughed.  Earlier this year I did a series of blog posts about procrastination.  I planned to do one a day for a week but got through two and then procrastinated and didn’t get through the rest.  A perfect example of how procrastination fucks you in the end.  I would the URL for the two I did get to but I don’t want to be labeled a spammer by your blogging software.  

  16. Cherry
    Cherry says:

    I think this slap is way too hard. The word procrastination is used to cover a lot of different things that aren’t about procrastination – they may be about changing priorities. A comment by Erika Dicksen said” I planned to do one a day for a week but got through two and then procrastinated and didn’t get through the rest.” Maybe the goal wasn’t one that was important, perhaps that was the error vs. not doing all the posts and calling it procrastination.
    In the USA there are bragging rights that go with doing, doing, doing. And if we’re not doing then we’re procrastinating which is seen as an evil plague. OK, my procrastinating on paying bills because I don’t want to see how little money I have left is stupid. Those bills, as you say, won’t go away and I may end up with late fees that eat up more of my money. But taking two days to write a post could be because you wrote a column, because your body needed to rest, because a priority was to ride your bike. It’s only procrastination because you chose to label it such and beat yourself up about it vs. accepting that you weren’t going to write it in one day and enjoy the time you weren’t writing.  Well, there’s my reframe and opinion.
    Now I remembered that Jon Morrow says not to disagree with a blogger if you ever want to write a guest post. Oops. I take it all back. You don’t know I want to guest post because I’ve procrastinated in writing to you about it and my idea.   That being said I think a slap for procrastination can be appropriate but one of colossal proportions can be overkill.

  17. Jodi Henderson
    Jodi Henderson says:

    Oh lordy….me likey this post! I was just trading emails with a friend about why we aren’t making as much progress on our respective businesses as we would like. We’re procrastinating, you see, so this post is terribly timely. I am going to print it out and post it on my fridge as well as email it to my dear friend Todd. He needs to get slapped. 🙂

  18. Prateek Modi
    Prateek Modi says:

    hahahahaha…wow! You write so well first I thought you were just trying to be cool, using all the shits and fucks..but I’m so wrong..Where the hell did ya learn to write like that? I bet you weren’t born with it?

    I used to be the the exact opposite of your typical procrastinator but somehow times have changed and I seem to’ve become the laziest bum in the world. All the people whom I’d lecture blue in their faces..they seem to do it to me. Lesson learnt – never criticize anyone for their shortcomings. Help them out, gently..


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