Friday, July 13, 2012

The long-delayed procrastination report

Perhaps I'll do it later

Years ago, while first reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I was quite taken with his program for self-improvement. He worked up a list of virtues—thirteen in all—and set himself the task of fully embracing them. Franklin did not, however, want to get carried away:
My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arrang'd them with that view.

I have entertained even more modest objectives. In particular, having confessed to a particular gift for postponement and inanition, I have striven to raise my level of productivity and reduce the amount of time devoted to languor and lethargy. I chose three goals, thinking that they were eminently achievable and not unduly ambitious. Nevertheless, as I will now report, the results have not been impressive.

Ice cubes

To begin with the best, I am pleased to declare that the ice-cube initiative has been a brilliant success, although I fear this indicates that only the most trivial tasks are within my grasp. Having observed that I was too often reaching into my refrigerator's freezer compartment to find the ice bucket empty, I decided that this should no longer occur. Hence I resolved never to take the last cube from the bucket without replenishing it from the ice cube tray. (No, I don't have an automatic ice maker.) Without exaggeration, I can state that it has been more than two years since I have found the bucket empty. My steadfast resolution has not wavered and the bucket is never allowed to sit empty. Let us raise a toast to my success! (Would you like some ice with that?)

The dishwasher

The kitchen counter gets crowded when cups and dishes and silverware are allowed to accumulate. Surely it would be better if used items were deposited in the dishwasher instead of added to the unsightly counter clutter. Of course, this is difficult to achieve if the dishwasher still contains the clean contents of its last wash cycle. The obvious solution was a solemn vow to fully empty the dishwasher and move its contents into the cupboards at the earliest opportunity. Should I find, for example, no clean glass in the cupboard, I should not reach into the dishwasher to extract one. No, that should be the signal for unloading the device and thus ensuring its readiness to receive the used glass once I am done with it.

My success in this endeavor has been only partial. Half a dozen glasses have been known to gather together on the kitchen counter before their number suffices to impress upon me my neglect of my resolution. (And, no, hiding a couple more in the sink itself does not excuse my behavior.) If there were a report card, the entry for this item would carry a “needs improvement” annotation.

The laundry

Surely it is unseemly and an indication of some residual barbarism to pick through the basket in the laundry room each morning to find the day's ensemble. Civilized people, it seems certain, have their garments on hangers in closets or folded in drawers. At least, I have certain vague recollections of this practice. Nevertheless, there is a measure of convenience in the fact that one's favorite pants and shirts tend to be near the top of the basket, the simple consequence of being most often worn and washed. While it's true that delving deeper may occasion the discovery of some lost-lost item deserving of being restored to the rotation, it's also a bit of a bother. The course of least resistance is lined with khaki trousers and blue button-down shirts. A scandal on multiple levels, I know.

Since I am aware of the situation, even as it persists, I have taken the bold step of designating a laundry-folding day in hopes that a salutary force of habit might develop. Franklin kept a little notebook in which he charted his successes and failures (“I was surpris'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined”). I have a little whiteboard in the hall outside my bedroom. Every day it reminds me that Friday is folding day, and now that I think of it, I do believe the last time I emptied the laundry basket and folded clothes it was indeed a Friday. Back in May, perhaps.

Oh, look. It's Friday again. Hmm.


Lightcraftsman said...

My wife and I have an automatic ice dispenser, and we're pretty good about hanging and folding laundry as soon as we take it out of the dryer. Two out of three ain't bad.

Kathie said...

Well, just as long as you arrive in plenty of time to your book presentations...

Helpful hint for keeping your mind off of stage-fright (well, it works for me): Go early, so you can circulate among folks before your actual presentation starts. That way the ones you didn't previously know won't feel like such strangers!

Kathie said...

And just for laffs, here's the latest blathering from one of our religious-right village idiots (I bet you could do a whole post on the logical fallacies in her essay).

"Atheist's restaurant beef defies belief":

Zeno said...

I do plan to go early, Kathie, but it's not to alleviate stage fright. I don't get stage fright. If I have to address a large group of people, I simply stand up in front of them and talk. No big deal. I've addressed groups numbering over a thousand on a couple of occasions and it was a thoroughly straightforward matter each time.

Kathie said...

Maybe I should have likened this to "warming up the crowd" ;-)))

(I'm always fine after the first sentence or two).