I have a theory. Some tasks will take as much or as little time as you put aside to do them. I apply this theory to two things: packing for a move and Holiday shopping.
Packing for a Move
The Early Packer:
If a person is planning a move, he or she can start packing six months before. When the move date arrives, packing will be almost complete, boxes will be labeled and stacked and moving will commence. You’ll get out on the date you are supposed to, you’ll move in on the date you’re allowed to.
The Last Minute Move:
Dealing with the same move out date, a person can start three weeks, 2 weeks or days before and the move will be the same. You’ll get out, you’ll get in. It might not be as pretty, might add serious stress, but if you have to get out by a certain date, you have to get out by a certain date. Stuff will get thrown on a truck, in your car, in the trash, on the curb, but you’ll be out. And when you arrive at the new digs you get to open boxes and bags and see what you actually brought with you.
In either scenario, there are always things that you simply cannot pack too early — the everyday items you need to function. Consequently, some last-minute packing is inevitable. Yes, plan and organize. Throw stuff out so you have less to pack and move, but don’t force a six month packing plan, unless you actually enjoy packing and want to pack for six months. If not, it’ll get done, because it has to. You won’t have the luxury of making agonizing decisions about what to keep, what to move. You won’t live with boxes before you move and after you move. You won’t have time to purchase endless containers and organizing materials. You’ll probably have a lot less to organize and you may take less crap with you. Of course, you may also discover that you threw a bunch of trash into a box and moved it, but you will have still moved.
The Early Shopper:
We all know someone who gets all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and they seem so smug and relaxed. Often, we see or hear of that same person shopping in December, catching a sale, exchanging one gift for another for a better deal or because the recipient bought it for him/herself before Christmas. My point is that starting early doesn’t necessarily mean you are done.
Starting early does mean you’ll likely shop longer. If you start in August, you will shop from August to December 24th. Even if you think you’re finished, there will be a sale, or you’ll find something perfect for someone or you’ll remember someone you should buy a gift for, or you’ll shop for yourself, etc. So you’ll still be shopping one way or another until December 24th. It that’s your thing, go for it. But the retail establishments know that the sooner you start, the more you buy, this is why Black Friday sales now start before Thanksgiving and stores open at midnight. Cha-Ching!!
The “Last Minute” Shopper:
If you start the second week of December, it’ll still be done by December 24th. It has to, so why stretch it out? Sales and mark downs? Guess what, except for the ridiculous black Friday sale items you may have trouble finding and may not need, the “Holiday” sales go on right up to and often after Christmas day. If you are indeed looking for that perfect gift that you think may be gone if you wait too long? Well go buy it, but don’t spend six months shopping for it, unless that’s your thing.
Christmas will come, whether you are ready or not.
So why spend months spending?
Why not just get what you got?
Am I preaching procrastination?
Maybe. I’ll get back to you later, heh heh heh. I’m not a procrastinator by nature on other things. I was never the type of student to pull an all-nighter, I believe in daily preparedness. However, I don’t want to pack for six months the next time I move or travel. I don’t want to shop for six months.
It’s not so much as waiting until the last minute; rather, it’s choosing the best time to start and establishing a limited time frame in which to accomplish the tasks at hand. (That sounds better, no?)
This is where I think all those Hoarders and Clean House type shows have it together. They give people three days to get it all done. What do you think would happen if you gave those people six months to clean their houses? The clean up crew would come back every day for six months waiting for the home owner to decide whether the plastic flowers she received as a gift in 1981 have a place in her home. No, sometimes things just have to get done. Make a decision. Done.
Starting early isn’t always the answer.
I probably won’t begin Christmas shopping until December 1st. In the meantime I can do some preliminary planning, make lists, budget, and I’ll figure out the last day I can order something online for it to arrive on time without paying extra shipping.
Then I will shop. No, I will buy. I won’t have the luxury to shop. I’m traveling for Christmas so I’ll have to be finished by December 21st anyway. It’s like a move out date.
It’ll get done. It has to.
I’m okay with that.
Just Me With . . . a strategy deeply rooted in procrastination and efficiency.
Caveat: Do not apply this theory to academics or work or personal life. It could result in — bad things.
Phew! I actually started this in 2011 but I got busy with the holidays and never finished. Ha!
Other holiday related posts:
Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.
Keeping It Simple At Christmas — People don’t always need the bells and whistles.
The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year — Unfortunate comment.
All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.
A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise — You never know the impact people have on each other.
Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.
My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of — Thanksgiving at my house, without my kids.