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Today's Family Magazine

Master procrastinator mom hopes to learn from daughter

Sep 20, 2016 03:39PM ● By Today's Family
By Stacy Turner

I don’t want to brag, but I’m something of a master procrastinator. Don’t be jealous -- It’s a skill I’ve been honing for as long as I can remember. Over the years, through high school and college, as well as through a variety of workplaces, I’ve consistently given myself minor heart palpitations and made myself sweat while simultaneously completing major projects in the final hours.  It’s probably one of my least favorite character traits, but one I just can’t seem to break.  I have the best intentions for changing my waylaying ways, but somehow, I always get sidetracked.  I’m not sure if it’s my short attention span, or just too many thoughts and projects spinning around in my brain.  Either way, I just can’t seem to kick the nasty habit.  I make extensive lists of all the stuff I’ll complete in a given day but at day’s end, most are incomplete.  I guess I’m overly optimistic about the amount of time each task will take.

Luckily, I’ve got some really good ‘git er done’ role models to emulate. My husband is a master of planning his work and working his plan. He’s the poster boy for organization -- Captain Clutter-Buster, sorting through the superfluous fluff and bringing order to chaos.  From piles of mail to the kids schoolwork, if it’s not neatly ordered and essential, it’s gone.  He’s loosened up a bit over the years, adding photos and personal touches to his once sterile-looking workspace, but all in all, organization reigns supreme.  My office is a reflection of what’s going on inside my head.  It’s a menagerie of photos, drawings and interesting quotes, projects in progress, kids homemade art, files, books and notebooks.  Needless to say, he can’t spend much time in my office without breaking out into a cold sweat.

We’ve got two children, and like mothers have threatened since the beginning of time, we each have one that’s just like us.  Our firstborn is ultra-organized.  She regularly cleans her room without being asked, purging stuff with wild abandon.  Like my husband, she’s adept at the art of linear thinking, starting at Point A and making her way efficiently to Point B.  That’s just not how my mind naturally works. I try to think along those lines but in my brain, the distance from point A to point B seems to take several detours.  Without a map, it’s easy to get lost or distracted during the journey.

But not my firstborn.  When she gets a big project at school, she looks at the calendar, then plans out what needs to be done each week in order to meet her deadline.  Sometimes, she even turns her work in early, which makes me equally proud of her while totally boggling my cluttered mind. Some day, I hope to be just like her. Our youngest, however, is more like her momma, and I feel like apologizing to her daily for that.  But my uber-organized cohorts and I are trying to break the cycle with her by instilling better habits to potentially help her avoid deadline-induced trauma later down the road.

It mystifies me how it’s second nature for my spouse and daughter to take a big, overwhelming project or activity and break it into small, manageable, easy-to-complete chunks spread out over days or weeks.  That seems to be how a logical mind works.  In my view, it seems utterly magical -- it’s simply too good to be true.  You mean you can spend a few minutes each day focused on one thing, and at the end of the week, you’re done?  Without all the nail-biting, getting crabby, and staying up late the night before it’s due to finish?!  That’s crazy-talk!  But we’re on a mission to help my youngest learn the secrets of this mystical gift.

As an added bonus, I think I may be learning a bit in the process.  Now, I don’t claim to be as systematic as my older daughter, who makes crafty gifts during the summer months so she’s all set for the coming Christmas gift-giving season, but I’m trying to get a handle on all those little pesky day-to-day tasks and long-term goals.  Maybe it’s the competition to use up that stockpile of supplies from my ‘some day I’ll make this project’ stash in the basement before she gifts them all away.  Who knows, but whatever the reason, it seems to be working.  And although I don’t have organizational ingrained in my DNA like she seems to, I hope to change at least some of my ‘seat of my pants’ ways by learning by her example.