Friday, January 14, 2005

Procrastination, It's a Good Thing!

I've always been a procrastinator. Or so my mother tells me. Me, I happen to think that I just use time very efficiently. My sister is the same; we aren't at all troubled by impending deadlines, and in fact find that they motivate us quite usefully. It's a bit odd to find that Caroline, my daughter, is of the opposite inclination. She wants to start her school projects early and get them out of the way, and she hates to have to do anything last minute. She simply can't have learned that behavior from me.

I've come to the conclusion that procrastination, and the resulting need to work under pressure to finish various tasks, is a useful skill. Imagine, if you will, those poor souls who never procrastinated and never learned how to pull of a great project at the last minute. They must fall apart when life throws them those unexpected curve balls! Those poor folks don't know the joy of starting to sew a Christmas gift on December 23 and finishing at 2am on December 25!

No, I've trained myself well. I've been known to hem a dress while wearing it on the way to an event (a feat which made my mom nuts in high school). And I'll note that my life as a litigation attorney didn't help. In fact, the litigation process encourages procrastination. Sure, you can propare your brains out for an upcoming trial all you want, and rack up all sorts of billable hours...but then more often than not, the case settles and all that work is for nothing. And you've incurred all those costs for the client for nothing, too. Those people who never learned how to cope with deadlines? Well, I've worked with a few...and they've been the guys screaming at their secretaries, freaked out by the stress of having to do something right up to a deadline. They just don't seem to learn that that level of anxiety isn't helping anyone get the job done faster.

So, fortunately, I'm not phased by upcoming deadlines, even when they're rushing toward me. Which is a good thing, as I have a quilting deadline approaching now. My art quilt group undertook a very fun group project, and I have to have my blocks done by Tuesday, January 25. I've made 7 of my 18 blocks, and truthfully, I'm not the least bit troubled. I know I'll get them done on time.

The project is this: each participant chose one shape and two colors. I went for simple, and chose a square, and black and white. We have a master list of each person's shape and color choices. And each of us will make a 10-inch block of original design, using the person's chosen shape and made in the person's chosen colors. The goal is to use the experience to try different techniques, experiment with design. And at the end (a week from Tuesday) we'll all swap blocks and end up with 18 blocks with our chosen shape and colors.

We started this project last summer, I think, maybe even March or April. Some people rushed and started making them like crazy. One woman is heard to comment (at almost every monthly meeting) how designing these blocks is taking up all of her quilting time and she can't wait to be done so she can get back to her own stuff. Another friend, a mother of an October bride, finished all of her blocks before October so she could relax and deal with the wedding in peace.

Me, I made a few and had a grand time doing them. But I didn't slave over them, and I certainly didn't spend weeks designing and stitching them. I'll admit to keeping a sketchbook of ideas for them, and I'll focus on one from time to time and jot ideas and scribble design possiblities, but I've not let them get in the way of working on other projects.

See? Here's where my great experience at procrastination will pay off. I'll buckle down, focus on them for a few days, and have a great time getting them done. And if I'm done by 9pm on Monday night, it'll be fine with me! Watch for pictures of them coming (it's been a bit dry of photos here lately, I"m sorry).....

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