Procrastination isn’t necessarily a bad habit – it can be a lifestyle when properly embraced.
It’s like when you’re at home “doing nothing.” If that was an affirmative choice, then you’re doing something, and not being lazy. Really busy people are encouraged to calendar time for doing nothing – and stick with it. I loved the scene in Patton when the general arrives a day early, and his new command headquarters is totally “unsat.” He finds a private sleeping in the hallway and asks what he’s doing. “Sleeping, sir!” “Then carry on – you’re the only one who seems to know what he’s doing around here.”
Once you retire, things aren’t supposed to be hectic. If you spend some time in the hammock or laze by the fire, the proper explanation is “I’m retired. This is what I do now.” Random bouts of doing nothing are one of the best parts of retirement. We live in the country to be closer to nature, and enjoy the peace and quiet (one gets used to the gunfire – much like traffic noise in the city). So, when I’m on the porch or in the hammock, I’m not doing “nothing.” I’m actively (or passively, if napping) engaging with the great outdoors. I pity the folks who have chosen to end their lives before the tube 24/7. I never turn on the TV until the evening news. But in the winter, I don’t feel particularly guilty watching a bit more, since it’s dark at five o’clock.
But back to procrastination as a lifestyle. We begin as teenagers, using the term “later” when asked to do something. No one is in a hurry to do a chore – like paying bills. But I’ve always done them immediately, as I’ve never liked having that vague, uneasy feeling that there remains something important I need to take care of – like the mortgage, utilities, insurance, doctor bills, taxes and the like. But I still delayed the actual outlay of money by paying everything I could with a credit card. I enjoyed getting the airline miles, and knowing there was always the chance I might “kick-off” before the statement arrived, while still having the cash in-hand.
But procrastination in the legal field can be dangerous. Missing court deadlines, the running of the statute of limitations, etc. are minefields for malpractice suits. Many personal injury lawsuits are filed just days before the statute runs. I’ve had primarily a government and corporate career. One learns that certain issues can resolve themselves completely if allowed to age. There are sometimes “soft” deadlines. Meaning that you can wait longer than the specified time to file a response, as long as the court had not yet ruled on the matter. It turned out that roughly 80% of most rudimentary appeals in my government practice were dismissed or denied out of hand within 90 days or so. If I had bothered to file a detailed response, it would have been an unnecessary waste of time and the taxpayers’ money. I seemed to have a knack for knowing which ones were appropriate for the “pending” stack.
Likewise, lots of life’s problems go away on their own, if you give them enough time. Queen Elizabeth espoused a similar strategy dealing with problems on “The Crown.” She had reigned for so long, that she had come to the conclusion that most problems eventually go away on their own. Of course, in a constitutional monarchy where the sovereign has little power, that’s pretty much what they’re encouraged to do – nothing. What a deal.
So, maybe we should create a group of local procrastinators and have some meetings. I’ll get back to you. Really.
Corky Pickering and his wife relocated from the Bay Area to Cottonwood in 2014. He recently retired from the federal government as an attorney advising law enforcement. He has been a rock and roll bass player and a Marine JAG. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.