COVID-19 Showed Me Why I Need to Stop Procrastinating

I wanted to start writing this today. I almost put it off until tomorrow. I didn’t.

i procrastinate too much
For the vast majority of my life, I have procrastinated. Anything and everything, it’s easier to do something later. I procrastinate too much. Whether it was big, important things in my life, or menial tasks like emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry, I put it off.

The last year and counting have changed me. I no longer feel like procrastinating. I feel like it’s time to start doing stuff.

COVID-19 has changed so much about our world, and that’s been a huge focus as a post-COVID world comes into view. Just this morning, I read stories about rebound stocks, revenge travel, and whether or not federal contractors will continue working remotely. There is so much unsettled about what the world will look like in six months.

How much longer do we wear masks? How much longer do we wait for the hesitant to vaccinate before mandating them to? What happens with variants? How do crowds gather close again? How do we fix our broken health care system? Can we truly eradicate inequity and inequality?

While these are very, very important questions, they look outward of the human experience. There has been some discussion, but not enough, on the inward focus about how the pandemic will fundamentally change who we are as human beings.

I got my second shot a week ago and I’m starting to plot out a return to some sort of normalcy. I want to see my friends. I want to go back to restaurants, specifically the indoor parts of them. I want to see my extended family and my cousins and my niece and nephew. I want to go back to the Belmont Stakes and back to a Nats game, maybe even a Wizards game. I want to return to the Shakespeare Theatre with my wife for a play or musical that she knows I won’t hate. I want to head back to the National Portrait Gallery.

The deepest feeling I have is I want to make up for lost time.

One of the last things I did before the world came to a halt was make a to-do list for 2020. I had high, high hopes for 2020. In fact, at the top of the list was “stop procrastinating” because there was never any urgency to my big plans. Life was good, or so I thought.

still procrastinating
After I made that list, the next thing I did was sign up for a series of 5K runs in and around Washington, D.C. to cross that off the list. It felt like I would on the precipice of something big. I never ran those 5Ks.

Instead, I went to Boston for a work conference two days later and ended up at the epicenter of the first major COVID outbreak, staying at the hotel that hosted the infamous Biogen conference the week prior. Upon learning that news, I retreated to my hotel room to catch our former President’s disastrous performance at the CDC, where he openly talked about keeping those sick with coronavirus on a cruise ship so his “numbers” wouldn’t look bad.

Pardon my French, but that was the exact moment I knew we were fucked.

Suddenly, my list of big dreams didn’t seem so important. For the next year and through today, I’ve been lucky enough to work from home and my company has emerged relatively unscathed.

I am a week within invincibility. As my home of Washington, D.C. takes a drastic step toward full vaccination and opening up, I have looked inward about what will change with me. For so long, looking inward simply meant keeping myself sane as it felt like the world crumbled around me. From the Black Lives Matters protest through the insurrection, my neighborhood spent too much time with windows boarded up. I spent most of January surrounded by tanks. It’s tough to think about the future when it seemed like mere survival was in question.

Today, I feel better, and I need to take advantage of this feeling. A year ago at this time, I was depressed. Today, I am invigorated.

The toughest thing about being a procrastinator is how hard it is to break that cycle because your goals are not achievable in a short amount of time. Even this one blog post takes time to write, edit, and post, all for potentially no return. I’m not writing for the Washington Post. I don’t have a million Twitter followers. Who knows how many will ever get this far?

If you did, thank you.

For most of my life, I’ve always told people to look on the bright side and take advantage of situations that seem hopeless. Yet, for too long, I didn’t take my own advice. Sure, there were spurts and fits where I was humming on all cylinders, but it was far too infrequent.

Enough is enough, and it’s time for a change. The pandemic has made it very clear that we have a very finite amount of time on this planet. I need to start taking advantage of every moment. 

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