I’ll stall when I get around to it

Burt's Eye View

So, I’ve got this column to write. I know because my calendar shows it’s deadline. Again. Just like every week.

Consistently meeting a steady deadline fosters discipline.

So I’m told. Usually by the people waiting for my column to show up.

“Why don’t you write about procrastination?” one of those patient souls growled. “You might learn something from the research.”

That was a month ago. No wait, last year. Two or three years at the most. Anyway, I’ll get to that research just as soon I can clear my deck.

What does that expression mean, anyway? It’s not a deck, it’s a to-do list, right? Not once has it entailed stepping out the back door and heaving everything off the porch.

Come to think of it, our porch does need cleared. I better do that. Be right back.

There, that didn’t take long. Well, I don’t think it will. I got sidetracked by the laptop and I found this: “Clear the deck” is a naval expression signaling seamen to stow the gear, leave the deck and get ready for battle.

I guess that makes sense. If I don’t kick that stuff off the back porch, the thought of it will nag me while I try to battle my column. Which is due. Yesterday.

So Wikipedia defines procrastination as “the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the ‘last minute’ before a deadline.”

Simply put, deadline is the great motivator.

Meetings are that great immovable force that prevent any actual work from taking place. But when deadline shows up, so does my column. Maybe not on the same day, but they’re both there.

One of those patient souls told me that Psychology Today reported that “20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions.”

I don’t know about distractions, but I do keep an idea file. Whenever I get a column idea, I take one of these notecards and …

Hold on a sec. I need to find a pen that works. Be right back.

There. Somebody kept putting off cleaning the junk drawer, so I had to do it. It’s amazing how many dead ink pens were in there.

Anyway, when I have an idea, which is usually at 4 a.m. in the middle of a bizarre dream, I wake up and write it on a note card. When deadline shows up, I just pop open the file and extract a card.

Like this one. I wondered what would happen if we bought one of those old school buildings that keeps getting closed. Wouldn’t that make a cool house!

Every hobby could have its own room. There’d be a bigger library for all my books. Plenty of guest rooms. A gymnasium. The larger kitchen my wife dreams about. Monkey bars and a slide outside. A dingy ol’ teachers’ lounge for our boots and garden clothes.

But would we still be required to hold surprise fire drills? I should look that up.

Be right back. I can still get my column done after this. Probably. It’s not like I’m procrastinating or anything.

— Meet Cole 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Gold City gospel quartet concert at Warren First Assembly Church, where he will sign copies of his novels. Or find him fiddling around at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.