5/4/08

The Punctual Procrastinator

Procrastination is only bad if it is unexpected. If we can set the right expectations from the beginning, procrastination can actually help you lead a happier life. Let me make my case with a few examples.

As the tax deadline approached this year, I was sure that I was not going to be ready on time. So on April 13th, I downloaded an extension form and promptly mailed it to the IRS. And for good measure I also added some extra postage to the envelope. I know I will incur some penalties for delaying my payment. But that penalty more than pays for itself. As I postponed my tax returns and relaxed, the most diligent and highly organized of my colleagues went through the motions of dealing with stock sales, cryptic W-2s, deductions, loss carryovers and the like. By the time I began my tax return, this group of neurotic nerds had figured out all the gotchas for this year. And they were more than eager to share this achievement of theirs with anyone who knew how to ask properly. That is how I sailed through my taxes this year. And since I was more relaxed while doing my taxes, I made less mistakes. That little penalty I will pay for postponing my filing, will actually save me more money by reducing the chances of a letter from the IRS asking for more.

The same applies to domestic tasks. Let's say I am supposed to clean the bathrooms on a Sunday that a critical playoff game is scheduled. Setting the right expectations on the previous Saturday evening helps me out. And if I broach the subject right after a nice dinner in a good restaurant, it gets approval without much notice. That way I don't get into trouble for waking up on Sunday and heading straight for the TV set. And if I am feeling particularly sharp and confident, I may even get away with arguing that there is no point cleaning the bathrooms anyway since we are about remodel them in a few months time.

So the happy way to be a procrastinator is to be punctual about informing the parties that will be affected by this life style. Yes, procrastination is a life style and if you heed the advice here, a fulfilling one at that.

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