[Note from the staff at VFTB: This post was originally scheduled to run in September 2012, but Tim  didn’t get around to it. He was extremely busy attending to more pressing matters, by which we mean trying to break his record score in Angry Birds.]

Procrastination - TV setDo you wake up some mornings feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done? Do you sometimes wish you could just stay in bed for another hour? Another six hours? The month of April?  Wish you could avoid all the items on your never-ending to-do list? Well, then what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time than right now – right this second – to start PROCRASTINATING!

Hi, friend. This is Tim Jones – professional procrastinator and author of the book Why do today what you can put off till forever (a future best-seller – if I ever get around to finishing it). That’s right, friend. Now you can discover my proven techniques to put off completing even the most urgent, unpleasant project.

Tired of your spouse nagging you with her “Honey-Do” list? I know I am. Well here’s my first tip: just keep stalling. Before too long, I guarantee that your spouse will stop nagging you once and for all. (Of course, her attorney may pick up where she left off.)  Keep reading for more time-tested tips.

Nike commercials may urge you to Just Do It. But I say, Just Don’t. Think about it. How do you feel when you think about studying for your chemistry final? Or working on that dreaded quarterly forecast presentation for the VP at work? Pretty stressed out, right? Who wouldn’t be? That’s why you need to read my second book I haven’t quite gotten around to finishing: No problem is too big to run away from. Sure you might piss off a few people here and there – like your professor, your employer, your friends, maybe the IRS. But there is no responsibility or crisis so big that you can’t hide from it – assuming you’re willing to change your identity and relocate to Wyoming. I just checked and I’m pleased to report the name Wilber M. Jablonski is still available.

For most of us, it’s not the big things we tend to put off. It’s the little things. Like cleaning out the garage. Or putting away the Christmas decorations, or taking the car in for repairs just because the engine catches on fire any time you use your left turn signal. Little things. Here are some practical strategies you can start using today to put off your responsibilities until tomorrow.

Procrastination - messy garageTip #1: Ask yourself: What will happen if I don’t do it now?

In most cases, it will still be there tomorrow. So what if you don’t mow the lawn this weekend? Who’s going to complain if you blow off changing the water in the aquarium for another couple of weeks? What’s the big deal if you fail to inspect that cargo ship entering into New York City loaded with leaking toxic chemicals? In most cases, the downside is minimal. The upside is lots more time to get caught up on season two of House of Cards on Netflix.

Tip #2: Blame someone else.

If someone is giving you heat for failing to meet a deadline, remember: it’s not necessary to complete that project on time, just so long as you can point the blame elsewhere – preferably to someone who’s not available to defend themselves. That’s why I always like to blame a recently fired employee or an unstable ex-girlfriend who just moved back to Denmark.  I successfully blamed Somali pirates for my late filing of my income taxes, claiming they’d kidnapped me while I was vacationing off the coast of Africa – while I was busy working on my tax return. Feel free to use this excuse yourself. But be careful. Don’t tell the IRS auditor the pirates’ leader’s name was Captain Morgan or Blackbeard. He might get suspicious.

Tip #3: Have a compelling excuse.

Don’t fret about upholding commitments to your employer, spouse or kids. Focus instead on coming up with a believable excuse for why you have utterly failed to lift a finger. A technique I’ve used with great success is to make up an ominous-sounding affliction, like Cranial Systemic Melanopsis. (Technically speaking, melanopsis is a genus of freshwater snail, but I doubt they’d figure that out.) I know a guy who got out of doing dishes for ten years by telling his wife he was allergic to dish detergent… and sponges… and kitchens.

A friend of mine got out of carrying any heavy boxes or moving furniture simply by reminding his wife about his weak back caused by a shrapnel wound in his butt from enemy fire in Vietnam while trying to save the life of a big black soldier he had to carry on his back as he ran frantically through the underbrush.  This worked for years, until one day he unwittingly agreed to watch Forest Gump with his wife. That was unfortunate.

Procrastination - blank diagramTip #4: Go ahead and do it – but really badly.

If you’ve run out of excuses trying to avoid your responsibilities, you may have no other choice but to suck it up and help out. In that case, be sure to really suck at it. There’s a high probability you’ll never be asked to help out again.

This technique worked like a charm when recently my neighbor asked me to help him build a backyard fence. The previous fall, he had built a 700 sq. ft. backyard deck for my house while I was away on vacation in Cabo. So I felt somewhat obligated to reciprocate. But I made sure to accidentally saw the first section of the fence posts 2 feet too short and attach them upside down. He stopped me and sent me packing before we got 10% of the way through. Mission accomplished.

So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to put things off till the future. My wife just reminded me I was way past due in cleaning out the gutters, like she first asked me to do three months ago. And I would gladly get right on it, of course, but it’s cold and wet out. And it seems like my old hip injury from my time building huts in Bolivia in the Peace Corps before she met me is acting up again. It does that sometimes on cold winter days …. And warm summer days.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook. I know you probably have to get back to that home improvement project, but before you do, how about sharing this post with 500 of your closest friends. The deck can wait.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014

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