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Missed Opportunities

You know that moment when someone is knocking on your door, but you are buck naked? You freeze, trying to decide whether to scramble and put some clothing on or convince your children to stay silent until they go away? I generally try to scramble, but I don't always make it. I've opened the door to find "Sorry we missed you" notes, post office notes saying they couldn't deliver my package and would try again tomorrow, and notices that my gas was being turned off because we forgot to pay the bill. Lovely.

"Opportunity knocks at the strangest times; It's not the time that matters but how you answer the door."  -Steve Gray.

I suppose you could answer the door nekkid, but I wouldn't recommend it. No, the idea is to always be prepared....or as prepared as possible. You do have to bathe occasionally and nudity happens. That's not the point of this post, so keep up. If you're just joining me, this post is part 4 of a 5-part series on Procrastination. In Part 1, we explored the definition and delved into it's deep psyche. Part 2 discussed distractions. Part 3 discussed the temptation aspect. Today is all about the missed opportunities.

Quick! Think of 5 things you wish you had time to do! I'll play, too. Here's mine:
1. Finish that book.
2. Exercise. 
2. I totally made that up. Exercise is not on my wish list. Pretend it says knitting project.
3. Meet Jess in Springfield for lunch.
4. Play a board game with my kids.
5. Okay, actually, I can think of about 500 more projects I'd like to work on, but I also wish I had time just to finish my housekeeping chores today. 

Quick! Think of 5 things you'll do today that aren't on your "have to" list and are not on your "wish I had time for" list!  I'll play, too. Mine:
1. Blog about procrastination (can we say i-ron-ic?)
2. Check facebook
3. Check news headlines...again.
4. Play Drawsomething.
5. Read blogs.

Like we discussed yesterday, these distractions are not sin but they really can't compare on the pleasure scale with list #1. So why do we do them?? A big reason is that we are looking for instant gratification. The pleasure of now, though tiny, is easier to recognize than the pleasure of later, though huge in comparison. Another reason, for me, is fear of being one of those people. Of course, we know plenty of people that have their act together and are fun to be around, but we also know people who have their acts together and are boring as all-get-out. Maybe I'm unique in this and just have issues, but lurking in my procrastination is a fear of finding out that my life is pathetic. Does this make sense to anyone else?

Procrastination is opportunity's assassin.  - Victor Kiam

If we could freeze time around us and catch up on our unfinished work, we would have hours of extra time in our days. We could tackle the items on our "wish there was time" list. We wouldn't have to say to our kids, "Sorry, honey, mama has to finish this." We could be finished. We could play. But the truth is, we play in little ways all day long and rob ourselves of true play time later.

My boys do this. They have a set amount of schoolwork to tackle for the day. Sometimes, they will tap out rhythms on the table with their pencils. They stare out the window. They drop an eraser and spend 10 minutes on the floor picking it up. They go to put a paper away and get lost for half an hour looking through old papers. They doodle super heroes in their margins. I don't even want to know what they are doing in the bathroom that takes half an hour. If they had done their work in a leisurely, yet productive manner, they could be finished by 2:00 and have HOURS of playtime. But sometimes, they dawdle so much that they are still doing school at 7:00 at night.

Now, compare this to the days that they know they are going to visit friends. Many times, I've said that as soon as they finish their work, they can go to their friends' house. I kid you not, these dawdlers are finished with an entire school day by 10:00 AM! Look at what is possible! Look at the time that they usually miss!

My mantra with them is "Work first, play second."  I repeat it quite often to them, but I never seem to repeat it to myself.

Procrastination is the thief of time.  - Edward Young

The truth is, there is no need to "freeze time" to catch up on our work. We have hours of time that we wile away in 5 minute snatches all day long, every day. Today, I challenge you to consider what you could be doing. 

Maybe there is good reason for my boys to be in the bathroom so long! From Opportunity Knocks: "Major life decisions aren't made in the boardroom, they're made in the bathroom." 

Be sure to check out the other blogs in the 5-day Carnival:

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"Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread." - Victor Hugo