My absolute deadline for completing my blog each week is five pm when Lauren, who posts it on the website, leaves for the day. And yet, here I am at two pm just beginning to write. So why did I start so late? I am always trying to understand my own process (as well as the process of everyone else). I like to know why people behave the way they do, perhaps because it makes them more predictable (and for that reason more safe). So here are some insights into my process:
Why did I start so late?
- Starting at the last minute makes it more exciting. My adrenaline is rushing, my fingers tingle, I wonder if I will make the deadline, or will I miss it for the first time in more than four years? Yes, excitement is definitely one of the reasons I start at the last moment.
- I focus better when I have limited time. If you gave me a two-hour project and I began to work on it three days in advance I would find it difficult to focus because, perhaps like many of you, there’s always tomorrow. Until, of course, there isn’t. Not everyone is like this. My friend Susan once stayed up until three in the morning to finish a term paper. I asked her if that was because it was due the next day. “No,” she said. “It’s actually due in three weeks, but I didn’t want to have it hanging over my head.”
- I write faster when I have a limited time to complete my work. This means that the writing is more unfiltered and that often enables me to get closer to saying something true I might otherwise have avoided . So if I write this blog in thirty minutes instead of my usual two hours not only will I have ninety minutes available to do something else, but I might be more authentic and share something meaningful that I might not have written about if I’d taken more time.
- This reason is a little embarrassing. When I rush my work I have a more credible excuse for not doing my very best. That takes some of the pressure off of me (and maybe I write even better that way). I can easily sell myself the “story” that I didn’t really have enough time, so less than my best is more acceptable. Of course, there are many other excuses for failing to do my best, but since I don’t own a dog the “dog ate my paper” isn’t available.
- I can write more concisely. You will understand that I don’t have time for six hundred words, so you and I can settle for five hundred. And maybe you’ll be happier since I’ll be brief and more to the point.
I think my blog next week may be titled, “Rationalizing for fun and profit.” Or maybe, “How to create an excuse which will at least satisfy you.”
Gotta go now!
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