I know this might upset some people, but I procrastinate cutting my grass. Weeks can and do go by between cuts (even in the spring 😲). When I finally cut my grass (like I did yesterday), my neighbors to each side have probably cut theirs twice or more since I last did.
It’s not that I don’t like my lawn to be neat and trim. I get anxious looking at my grass when it is too long. Not only am I afraid my neighbors will think I am lazy and don’t take care of my property, I am afraid that if I leave it too long it will just be that much harder to mow when I do eventually get to it.
These fears aren’t enough to force me into action though. Why not?
One reason is that none of these fears are founded. Ok, maybe my neighbors think I am a bit lazy, but I actually don’t care. I know I’m doing more urgent and important house-related tasks like painting, fixing my gate, building garden beds, and organizing my tools to near-perfect symmetry in the shed.
I was thinking about this (maybe way to much) and came to the following, earth-shaking conclusion: It’s just not important to me.
Mowing the grass? That can wait.
How many house projects, even renovations, could you do if you didn’t spend the equivalent of days (or even months) worth of time mowing the grass each year?
Also, if I procrastinate, does it take me longer once I eventually do cut the grass? Marginally, maybe, but that’s a stretch. I still have to cart the mower and trimmer back and forth, empty the mower a million times, clean everything up and put everything away once I’m done. We’re talking a few minutes difference.
Yes, sometimes cutting the grass can just be a nice excuse to take a break, be alone, and go on a nice walk. But let’s not pretend it is urgent or important work.
In the grand scheme of my life, my wife, kids, dog, job, health, and so many other things are both more important and more urgent than cutting the grass (see the Eisenhower Matrix for decision making for more thinking about this).
One of my favorite thinkers and authors when I was at Microsoft, James Whittaker, has an entire chapter on procrastination in his book The 7 Stages of Productivity. He describes procrastination as an essential skill. Yes, this just backs up my thinking, but hear me out.
I wasn’t always a decent student; it wasn’t until I learned to procrastinate that I started to excel.
The thinking goes something like this: if you are overly prepared, you end up wasting a lot of time on learning or doing something that isn’t really needed (for an exam or for the task at hand). By procrastinating doing something, you are both doing more important work instead AND saving time by not wasting effort on stuff that doesn’t matter.
Cut grass doesn’t last; a garden rockery or handmade shelter for wood storage will.
So there you go. I might have a shaggy lawn, but my garden and I are better off because of it, even if my neighbors don’t think so.