Why you shouldn't put off reading this column
By Janet Kidd Stewart
Special to the Tribune
Laura Tomacic has never been a procrastinator, and itís a good thing. Her job
program director for the Executives Club of Chicago demands that she
thousands of reservations for top business people, most recently a
speaker Steve Forbes that drew 1,400 guests. "When I was younger
Iíd get my
weekend homework done by Friday at 6 p.m. so I could watch ĎThe
Today, panic keeps her from putting things off. "All I can think of are the phone calls
Iíd get if invitations didnít go out on time. Thatís whatís driving me- complete fear,"
she laughs. She likes to stay on top of things at home, too, and that can be a
problem. Her husband, a mortgage broker, is a confirmed procrastinator, reveling
in last-minute travel plans, for example. "If he says heíll take care of something,
Iím constantly checking up on it. I know I drive him nuts."
Opposites on the procrastination issue tend to attract, a fact that can lead
lot of unpleasantness, notes Rita Emmett, a professional speaker and
trainer based in Des Plaines. Her thoughts on conquering
procrastination - for
yourself or a partner - drew more than 100 participants
to a recent womenís
health forum at Gottlieb Health & Fitness Center in Melrose
Park. And sheís just
written a book on the subject, "The Complete
Procrastinatorís Handbook," for
which she hopes to find a publisher soon.
Many times procrastination is cast in a humorous light, and the
subject often brings nervous laughter instead of real solutions when
itís discussed, she says. A recovering procrastinator herself, Emmett
says she was daunted by the growing "time-management industry" that
urges people to craft detailed mission statements and keep calendars
with military precision. "Procrastinators just arenít going to craft a
complicated mission statement," says Emmett, a former English major
who left college just a few credits short of graduation and didnít go
back until her second child was in 1st grade.
To get clients moving, Emmett asks what they are putting off. Usually,
things like chores and errands top the list. "Then I ask them, "Are
you putting off your life? Your hopes, your dreams, your
relationships? Have you been meaning to go back to school or ride a
mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?" Those are the things that
make clients feel the worst, Emmett says. Returning library books late
can make you the butt of jokes, but putting off a career dream or a
financial goal can rob a person of self-esteem.
'Previous generations had [an accomplishment- reward] rhythm. There would
be a celebration feast at harvest time and a barn dance.'
Because getting started
seems to be the most difficult part of getting over procrastination, Emmett suggests identifying an important task, then giving
hour of undivided time - no more. This lets you get started on a project
waiting for an entirely free day, which tends to never come, she notes.
goes off after an hour and even if you havenít scratched the surface
project, youíve taken care of the guilt of at least doing something," she says.
Another tip: Reward yourself. "If completing a job were its own reward we would
never procrastinate," Emmett says. Procrastinators always seem to have
something hanging overhead, she says, which makes them less likely to play
hard and then take on their next assignment rejuvenated. An avid reader, Emmett
rewards herself for†completing an assignment by giving herself the time to dig into
a good book thatís not work related. "People who donít procrastinate do a job
then reward themselves for doing it" without a lot of agonizing, Emmett says.
"Previous generations had that rhythm. There would be a celebration feast at
harvest time and a barn dance."
Today, work never seems to get finished, and procrastinators more than anyone
feel they donít deserve to celebrate because theyíve wasted so much time on the
project, she says.
In todayís fast-paced work world, one might think procrastination had gone the way
of the long lunch hour. Yet with fewer staff employees doing more work, some
experts say, putting off one job to do another is even more common.
If there is an upside to procrastination, it may be that business moves fast enough
today that last-minute performers can sometimes be rewarded. For instance, the
monthly newsletter for Nantucket Nectars, a Massachusetts-based juice company,
doesnít come out until the second week of the month.
"If I was stricter about the deadline, it would be a bland newsletter, and I work much better under pressure" notes the editor, Wink Mleczko. The delay allows her more
time for creativity and others more time for sending in submissions, notes Mleczko,
who recently filed her income taxes on the last day of her extension period.
Rita Emmett presents talks and seminars
on a variety of subjects to associations, organizations,
For further information
call Rita at (847) 699-9950