Meat and Potatoes of Life: No day like tomorrow for procrastinators

| April 24, 2015 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
My column was sent late this week.
A spaceship wasn’t hovering ominously over Rhode Island, and our base house didn’t burn down.
My computer didn’t seize up with “the blue screen of death” – although that did happen back in ‘07 just after my husband had deployed to Djibouti.

None of our kids came down with double pneumonia, and miraculously, I wasn’t arrested for fraud after filing our tax returns.

Nope, I don’t have one decent excuse for my column being late. Truth be told, I had procrastinated.

Normally, I submit my column to newspaper editors on Fridays for publication the following week, so that I can spend the weekend watching the kids’ sports, barbecuing with the neighbors and walking the dog along the water.

Last week, Monday, I knew it would be smart to write 200 words on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; to leave Thursday for rewrites and editing; and to polish and submit on Friday. But that makes way too much sense.

Friday is eons away, I thought to myself. Today, I’ll get laundry done, mop the floors and wash the minivan. Getting housework done will free me up to write more tomorrow.

But between the puppy being afraid of the vacuum cleaner, the hourlong call from my mother, the search for missing socks under the kids’ beds, and that riveting episode of “Cops” I had to watch until the end, I barely managed to defrost the pork chops.

On Tuesday, I had awakened with a purpose. I’m going to make some headway on that column … as soon as I think of an idea, I thought. What will I write about this week?
My notebook in hand, I sat in a sunny spot in the backyard to let the dog sniff around while I searched for inspiration.

Hmmm … the beds could really use a bit of weeding. Three hours later, there were piles of garden debris out by the curb, my fingernails were packed with dirt and I was on my way to Home Depot for grass seed, tomato cages and annuals.

On Wednesday, I had determined that, if I spent the day in front of my computer, I could turn out 600 words and still have Thursday for editing. All I needed was a subject. I trolled the Internet looking for topics, current events, some nugget of news that might feed an idea.

Let’s check Facebook to see what’s trending, I thought.

Big mistake. An hour later, I had scrolled all the way down to 2012, got sucked into a comment debate over proposed BAH (basic allowance for housing) cuts and watched a string of YouTube videos of dogs with human voiceovers.

I figured I’d switch out the laundry and try again after lunch, but the afternoon brought a case of the sleepies. I convinced myself that a 20-minute catnap on the couch would do wonders, but you can probably guess how the day went from there.

Thursday, I awakened stressed, which should have provided adequate motivation to meet my 24-hour deadline. But by dinnertime, I had done everything but my column. I had organized the junk drawer, swept out the basement, clipped my toenails, put our “National Geographic” magazines in chronological order and dug the fuzz out of the keyboard with a toothpick.

I had planned to let my editors know on Monday, I just couldn’t do this anymore.

Friday and Saturday passed in hopeless defeat, but on Sunday, I noticed that the sky did not fall. The Earth did not implode. I was still breathing.

My editors probably hadn’t even noticed that my column was late. I realized that my fear of failure had caused me to create conditions where success was impossible.

With the dangerous awareness that I could play this cat and mouse game with myself every week, if I so dared, I finally sat down and tapped out this column about procrastination.
I hit send and promised myself I will put an end to this self-destructive habit, and I’ll do it first thing – tomorrow.
(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

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