It’s Procrastination Day!

Over at Slate.com they have a bunch of articles devoted to procrastination up. I particularly liked Emily Brazelton’s attempts at Procrastinator’s Anonomous (they can’t get the meetings started on time). She also looks into the research on procrastinators:

Ferrari co-wrote Procrastination and Task Avoidance: Theory, Research, and Treatment and co-edited Counseling the Procrastinator in Academic Settings. The portrait that emerges from these books is pathological. Procrastination “merits extirpation,” it is a “nasty, unattractive” part of human behavior, and its “illogicalness is its salient feature.” Procrastinators are noted for their “impulsiveness,” “lack of persistence,” and “lack of self-control.” Self-reflection “is generally not a strong point with procrastinators,” and willpower “is a vital weak point” in their character. Sure, we sound like those FBI psychological portraits of serial killers or pederasts. Fortunately, our malady prevents us from carrying out any nefarious plans that we might have.”

I have struggled with being a procrastinator all my life. Always late, always putting things off till the last minute. Never getting as much done as I wanted. I have gotten so much better over the last few years. I’m still not great, but I generally get places about on time (how’s that for equivocation 🙂 ) and I get things done that I want and need to get done. What I have found, and I hate to say this, is that you just have to do it. When you do whatever it is you’ve been avoiding, you realize that it’s rarely as hard or bad as you anticipated. I also try to give myself more time than I think I’m going to need to do things. I always underestimate how long things will take. I now try to start getting into the car about 15 minutes before I actually need to leave because I can never make it out without 2-3 trips back in.

I also learned that perfectionism is a major cause of procrastination. I would not do things because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do them as well as I would like or keep them that way. But I’ve come to realize that doing something decently is better than wanting to do it perfectly.

The bad news is that I’m not sure this is a trait which ever actually goes away. I doubt it will ever come naturally to me to just dive in and get things done. I still waste too much time cruising the internet (research for my blog, see). But I’ve come a long way.

Anyhow, if you have something else you’re supposed to be doing, why not cruise on over to Slate and check out their helpful articles on procrastination (see? that’s called “enabling” 🙂 ).

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The Orioles Are Coming

We have a small deck off of our kitchen where I hang our bird feeders. This allows us to draw them in close enough to actually see them when they come to eat. Visitors to our house in late spring and summer are often startled at the appearance of this fellow:

The Baltimore Oriole. Because of their extremely bright colors, these are some of the coolest birds to attract to your feeders. And of course kids are always excited to see a bright orange bird. Fortunately, it’s super easy to get them to come. We just put a shallow dish of grape jelly on the ledge of the deck around when the trees are just starting to leaf out and they show up within a couple of days. The brightly colored males show up first and the more muted females join them within a week or less. These birds tend to return to the same nests each summer, so once you attract a pair (or more) they will return year after year. Later in the summer, they will even bring their scraggly looking kids with them to nip from the jelly dish.

If you’re lucky, your jelly dish may even attract a gray catbird as the summer wears on:

These aren’t nearly as flashy as Orioles, but they’re so elegant. I just love them. They’re more reclusive than many other birds, so getting one onto your deck is kind of neat. Once they decide that they’ve found a safe source of food, they get kind of greedy and you’ll find yourself refilling the jelly dish more often. They also have an unusual call which you’ll come to recognize.

Aside from jelly you can also put out orange halves or buy feeders which take nectars for Orioles, Catbirds and the like. But grape jelly is much cheaper and works very well so I’ve never bothered.

You can watch the migration of Orioles and other migrating birds and insects here. That link is to the Journey North website which tracks signs of spring moving northward. It also has an easy form to fill out to report when various signs of spring show up in your neck of the woods, which can be a neat activity for your kids to participate in.