Matt Gray

On the library

Dec 7, 2003

I have a problem. I procrastinate—who doesn’t, right? Usually this habit isn’t a fatal failing in and of itself. I, however, seem to be afflicted with what I have termed the ‘library book syndrome.’ The analogy goes like this: let’s say you borrow some books from the library. You’re well aware that the books are due at a specfic time, and you attempt to make a note of it. Alas, as you read the books and enjoy their content, as well as work, play, etc—you totally forget the due date of the books.

The date comes and goes, and you finally think about returning the books, only to discover that they are already late. A normal person would return the books right away, so as to avoid accumulating a large fine. I, on the other hand, am even more disinclined to return the books, as I have to pay the fee, and I have failed in the contract between myself and library.

I then postpone returning the books as long as I can, using any available methods at hand to distract myself from the reality of the growing fine. Even when I am forced to contemplate this fee, the increased size of the penalty discourages me even further from returning the books.

This continues until some sort of disaster forces the status quo to change, such as a collection notice from the library, thugs at the door, etc. When this happens, the tension breaks, I part with a hefty sum of cash, and things return to normal.

I need to find a way to break this cycle. It is unacceptable to simply give up on projects that become a tiny bit late. This perfectionism, this all-or-nothing approach, has been a hinderance my entire life.

This is one of the primary reasons my web sites are never completed, or start and stop like crazy. When I manage myself, sometimes nothing is good enough to ‘pass’, and therefore sites and projects and schoolwork get stuck in limbo.

Since I’m writing this, it should be possible to recognize and avoid this behavior. We’ll see how it goes.

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