Procrastination – Most Big Problems Start Small

There is something that I have learned going though life, and I am sure we all know about it. One could almost say, its common sense. But its something that it seems, the vast majority of people either subconsciously or willfully, ignore. What I am speaking of, is the risks (sometimes even dangers) of procrastination.

For each of us, the word means different things, depending on your life situation. If your in school, it could mean putting off cleaning your room or working on that big assignment (I was bad for that lol). In any situation, its normally a task that one must do, but does not at all feel inclined to do, and thus, it gets pushed aside, with a mental note to do it later. There is nothing wrong with this really, assuming you can actually get the task done in a timely fashion (meet a deadline).

But problems occur, when one either forgets, or keeps pushing the task aside until the VERY last minute. When it comes to big tasks with deadlines fairly far off in the future (say, a school assignment that is supposed to be completed over a semester), I tended to be like this. Or even, booking time off of work for whatever reason (usually holidays). I can’t “see” how close that the date is coming, even if its months in advance. And so one day I have an “Oh FUCK!” moment, in which case its often times to late (others booked the days off that you needed already, you have NO time to fully complete the assignment ect).

Then there are the long term projects one might have, such as fixing a problem with a vehicle or a house (say a leaky roof or a rotted deck). Often these tasks are pushed aside for one reason or another (financial or time constraints, laziness). And if most people are like me (or my father lol), these things will just stay the way they are, be put on the back burner. Until one lousy day, the problematic car that had 2 issues in the beginning, dies as a result of the 5th problem, your roof falls in on you as you make breakfast on a rainy morning, or you walk out the door and end up falling though your rotted deck.

The labor and cost to resolving the problems in question, once they reach this point, will instantly skyrocket.

Though we all know the risks and problems that come with procrastination, its interesting that we all do it, both personally and collectively as a society.

I have a few personal examples for myself. There was the school and the work thing. There is my habit of sticking to jobs for long periods of time that I absolutely DESPISE (often times to the point of wishing I would be fired), even though handing in resumes was the answer. It took me years to finish my high school education (though I still find the diploma rather pointless in this day and age), and it also took years for me to finally get out and get a learners permit (and thus start the process to a full license, and the freedom and opportunity it provides). And there is my dislike of doctor visits, even though there have been a few things periodically happening with my body that give me a slight pang of fear.

Procrastination often has a BIG hand, in everything that goes wrong with the various workplaces I have been employed at.

Like not fixing equipment as it breaks, and leaving it to the point where the business is almost strangled by the failure (usually just simple wear and tear) of so much of its equipment. Updating the decor of said business, in order to be on a more even playing field to compete with pretty much ALL its main competitors (who have all updated there look, and are reaping the benefits). To simple day to day cleaning tasks that are small and minor, but become a MAJOR job if not done on a fairly regular basis.

This one is key, when it comes to 2 different employers I have worked for.

For my job in a fast food restaurant, nightly cleaning of the dinning area (and various pieces of the kitchen equipment) was could be somewhat time consuming, but it became twice as bad when not done regularly (daily). Various stains on say a seat, may be a bitch to remove after sitting a couple of days. A public washroom becomes disgusting after very little (or NO) cleaning after a day or 2 (all past examples of stuff I have personally had to clean up). Then there is the kitchen cooking equipment, such as the deep fryers and the broiler. If done on a daily basis, though scrubbing IS involved, its usually not all that bad. But if the person before you did either a crappy job (if they did it at all), then the task becomes more difficult. Its a REAL pain in the ass to scrub off a day or 2 of build up in a hot fryer vat, or a day or more of greasy caked on charcoal-like buildup on hot broiler pieces.

At another job, its cleaning shelves up and expiration dates (though this may not be as much a matter if procrastination as it is just lack of time).

In my days of work, I often times find that many shelves are dirty, both from day to day buildup of dirt and dust and from spills. But I usually have no time in which to do anything about it, even if its a small mess. And so years of this, has made some of the shelves, pretty grimy and sticky. And the same applies to expired products. I am often times the discoverer (and disposer) of dead (expired) product of all kinds. Sometimes as close as a day or two past, some as far back as 6 months OR MORE.

Though all the food is indeed, money thrown into the landfill, its a problem that could be at least slowed by a regular checking of dates. It would ensure that no products ever sit in the back of shelves 5 years after there expiration date, and increase the chance of sale of close to date products (albeit with a price reduction).

Though the above I admit was a bit off topic, it still has pretty much the same affects as procrastination (many little things coming together to form a HUGE thing).

And as a society, we also tend to be collectively procrastinators. One quite recent example out of the US congress, were the massive budget cuts implemented by after they waited to long to bother even TRYING to do anything about the many problems at hand. So, of course, the american people en-mass suffer the consequences of the Sequester cuts. Then there is New Orleans. The levy system was known to be ineffective against all but a tiny storm for DECADES, but to which no one did a thing about. Until an INDIRECT hit broke the thing in multiple areas, and started a chain of events that plagues the city to this day (though the “money” (aka white and tourist) areas are largely rebuilt and repaired to there former glory, large parts of the poorer areas still remain abandoned). The bridge in Minneapolis that fell into the river (taking many motorists with it) is another example (the repairs would cause a traffic NIGHTMARE! Because apparently, leaving it till it falls was SO much better of an option, then temporary but necessary inconvenience).

And as a species, we are procrastinating on a number of BIG issues, to our peril.

One of the big ones (if not the biggest) is climate change.

Even after you get past the climate deniers and other oil industry educated or funded morons, you run into the procrastination factor. No one wants to spend the time or money, or otherwise take the risk, of moving OFF of fossil fuels and shifting to greener (more sustainable, and limitless) energy sources. Though the status quo is the best move economically in the present (and for companies that profit in the fossil fuel industry), its extremely shortsighted thinking. The money made in the extraction and sale of these products is temporary, but the damage resulting from the industry is permanent. Sure, nature can heal all wounds, and certainly can handle anything we pesky humans do to it.

But the earth, works on large geologic time scales, where as we do not. The one or 2 hundred years required to repair the damage from say, the Exxon Valdex or the Deepwater Horizen disasters, is but a blink of an eye in geologic terms. But its more then my lifetime. I will never see a clean Prince William Sound or Gulf of Mexico, nor will I see a NON-radioactive Pacific Ocean (that story is still developing. At this point, who knows just how far it will go).

And there are the problems of upcoming shortages of such important materials such as oil and water (which will affect the food supply. Our current food system is HUGELY invested and dependent on petroleum).

When we will start to see the full affects of all of the above problems, is debatable. But the asteroid is on the way.

So will we stand by, and just let it slam into us? Or will we smarten up, and bolster our defenses, and try to reverse the fate were predetermining for ourselves?

Collective procrastination starts with one.