Procrastinate your way through the holidays
With the approach of the year’s end and a new one beginning, many of us frantically compile lists of things to finish up or initiate. Mine include holiday gift-buying, card-sending, planning a family dinner, household chores to complete before the arrival of guests, places to go and people to meet, not to mention activities related to my writing career. It’s enough to make me long to immediately take a nap. Or, if I actually try to accomplish everything, by Christmas Eve at 2 a.m., I’m cranky, exhausted and depleted of cheer.
However, a secret has been revealed to me, through my own neglect. If you wait long enough, many of those little notes to yourself are out of date and you can throw them away without completing the duties. The tactic won’t work with responsibilities like filing your taxes, although you can even delay on that particular task from year to year.
This certainly alleviates some of the stress we place on ourselves to achieve each and every item on our to-do lists. Example: I’ve had a stack of bricks in my backyard for about a year, pried out by a landscaper from where they’d slowly been inundated by mud. On my list went “move bricks” for quite some time. Never to be accomplished. Until my grandkids wanted some chores for which they could earn money. Presto! They did the work, and I crossed it off the list.
Another advantage: You’re able to ponder an action from multiple perspectives, gain the advice of others, maybe even outlast a trend. When I had a house I wanted to refinance, I delayed and delayed. Over the years, the interest rate plunged steadily downward to my benefit.
In terms of social interactions, I recently postponed for weeks contacting some friends I hadn’t see in a while. Finally, they reached out to me with invitations to their homes. What a great way to keep in touch without having to put forth effort to plan a party or organize an outing, thereby eliminating another bunch of chores to be completed.
Physical chores are especially suitable for procrastination, since I don’t enjoy doing them. Perhaps you, like me, have put off making a bed. By night time, I don’t care if the covers are smooth and the pillows plumped. I simply fall into it.
The hallmark of holidays is gift-giving. Who doesn’t enjoy the look of wonder on the faces of loved ones when the gift’s perfect? I used to spend an eternity each December compiling lists of gift ideas, comparing prices, slogging from store to store, elbowing other shoppers out of the way to grab the last game, and wrapping items in paper and ribbons soon to be discarded. About 50 percent of the time, however, the looks from the recipients were polite acknowledgment or puzzled inquiries.
One year I was so late in my shopping, come Christmas Eve all I had at hand was money. Out came the checkbook, in went the funds into cards. Definite crows of delight echoed around the tree. They always accompany checks, I found. I finally decided, why not give people what they really want? Not only do I slash the number of hours I expend on shopping, I help my gift recipients eliminate the time for returning unwanted presents.
This holiday season, try a little procrastination yourself. You may find you’re happier, and so are the folks around you.
Bonnie McCune is a writer and has published several novels as well as other work. Reach her at http://www.BonnieMcCune.com.