The Monumental Task of Procrastination

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As a father, my daughter never ceases to amaze me when it comes to doing her chores.  I know that I am at work way too much and don’t get the opportunity to see her in every task, but the one task I have seen often enough is that of putting the silverware away.

I try hard to remember what it was like to be a kid.  I know that at the age of nearly 6 I shouldn’t put so much emphasis on her work ethic and cringe at her excuses and complaints on why putting silverware away is such a hard and mountainess task.  But then I remember my childhood chore of putting away dishes for a family of 7.  I compare that CHORE to her half-full tupperware of spoons, forks, and spatulas, and immediately feel more passionate about the fact that she’s got it pretty easy.

The most frustrating part is that we warn her and warn her: “J5, your dishes need to be put away before watching a show”, “J5, if you do them right now you’ll be sad later when it’s time to watch a show and you don’t get to because you didn’t put your dishes away”, “J5, you’ve got half an hour”.  These warnings are brushed off as she plays, dances, and does anything BUT her chore of putting the silverware away.  Soon we are down to: “J5, you’ve only got 20 minutes until it’s time to watch a show”, then: “…15 minutes”, and finally: “…5 minutes”.  The clock ticks down to the zero hour and the waterworks and meltdown begins as we sit Thomas on the couch in front of the iPad to watch his show while she misses out because she didn’t put her dishes away.

Then there is the process of observing her putting the dishes away.  I can only liken it to my trips to Costco.  I mentioned before in Waiting  that I am a shopping machine.  Costco is the cheapest place I have found to purchase just basic copy paper so when I go in I’m pushing the big industrial flat-bed cart loaded with boxes of paper.  I’m on a mission to get in, get what I need, and get out all while zig-zagging in and out, slamming on the breaks, and tailgating those “Sunday drivers” who are there to browse as if I were a street racer in a riced out Honda.

These people meander around at a snail’s pace looking at all the shiny items packaged in bulk that they don’t need but have to have because it’s Costco.  They also don’t clue in that isles are for moving about and, just like on a highway, you should pull to the side of the road if you want to look at something.  You don’t just stop your car in the middle of the road, open the door, and walk away so you can smell the flowers!!!!!

…..I have store rage worse than road rage…..I’m working on it.

In that same aggravated agony, I watch this little girl, sobbing as if I had taken her favorite toy pony, skewered it, and was slowly melting it over an open flame in an attempt to cause as much emotional pain as I possibly could, as she puts away her silverware in, and I kid you not, 5 MINUTE INTERVALS!!!!  A task that should only take 2 minutes tops is drug out over the next 20 – 30 minutes.

Then, suddenly, she flips a switch in her brain.  She is magically healed from the wound we had inflicted by enforcing what we’d been warning her of ALL EVENING.  She focuses on her task, and like that she’s done and a happy, beautiful, little girl again.

It baffles me every time

Yesterday I got a taste of my own medicine

One of the efforts I make when running my printing press at work is to try and bundle all of the like jobs together so they can be run at the same time.  Because a press is intended for larger jobs (thousands of sheets) the feed system is more complex and easily fine-tuned versus that of a copy machine pulling sheets from a drawer.  It is made to run at a higher speed, pulling each sheet in the exact same way so that it goes through the press in the exact same spot, finally landing in the delivery stacked neatly.

As I run these jobs I can fine-tune this by adjusting the pile height, suction, blast, side jogs, etc. allowing the job to run smoothly, avoiding jams or miss-feeds that would interrupt the job and cause other quality issues during the run.  Once everything is dialed in I can just load paper in and let her run.

One of the best feelings is being able to knock out three or four jobs rapid fire because all I have to do is mount a new plate and wipe down the blanket for the new image in between each job.

Life is good when the paper is feeding beautifully.

About a week ago I began running a job that I was unable to finish because of a miscommunication in our shop that left me short of the paper I needed to finish it.  Further more, after placing the order for the paper needed to finish the job I found out that it was going to take about a week before I could have it in my hands.  Irritated, but having no choice, I cleaned up the press and moved on to other jobs while I waited for the rest of the paper to show up.

Well, the paper was here now and it had been a long enough time that I REALLY needed to finish printing that job so we could complete it and get it to our customer.  The dilemma I was facing was that I was set up for another paper type and size.  I had run stacks and stacks on the days prior and the press had just motored through those jobs without any issue.  I also knew that I had more that I needed to run in the coming days using that same paper and setup.  I really didn’t want to go through the effort of changing that setup just so I could run a couple thousand sheets to finish this job and then have to go back to the setup it was already running on.  This was also a specialty paper that needed some extra attention in order to run smoothly.  Changing the setup opened the doors for flaws and miss-feeds, heightening my frustration and lengthening out the time it would take to finish the jobs.  It felt like so much work, so much effort, and I just did not want to do it.

So I did what any responsible adult would do and went and got a strawberry shake, sat at my desk, and watched YouTube for a good half hour.  Procrastinating even further, I looked for any excuse not to start that job by working on other jobs, cleaning up my email inbox, fine-tuning the floor-plan for our new building……

I was able to find ways to kill hours out of that day putting off the inevitable.  But I had to face the fact that I needed to do that job NOW.  There wasn’t any more time to procrastinate and I would face the wrath of an angry customer if I didn’t just finish it up so the job could be closed and go out of the door.

So I flipped that mental switch and got to work.  Within minutes I had the paper loaded, the feeder dialed in, and was running off my first few sheets as I centered the image and got the ink density where it needed to be.

Soon I was into the meat of the job.  The press was running a beautiful rhythm as it fed sheet after sheet without flaw.  As the minutes ticked by the feed stack got smaller and smaller while the delivery pile grew and grew until, like magic, the job was suddenly finished.

I didn’t set my watch, but I would guess that it took less than an hour to completely set up the job, run it, and clean up the press.  Somehow, what I imagined in my mind as an attempt at moving the Eiffel Tower one block to the east was, in reality, as simple as walking out and moving my car one space to the left.

The effort was minimal, yet, the procrastination was monumental.  I guess that’s something you just don’t grow out of.

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