"If It Weren't for the Last Minute, Nothing Would Get Done.”

My editor has just emailed me another reminder that this letter is due today. (If you’re reading my letter, then I must have lived up to the Rita Mae Brown quote in the headline and got it done at the last minute.)

Procrastination is something that I really have to work on. Soon.

I seem to be plagued with procrastination more in my personal than my professional life (then again, maybe my editor and my wife could have a debate about that).

A few days ago, my wife asked me why I was in a bad mood. I snapped, “Nothing is wrong!” She gave me her famous dagger stare, mumbled something and walked away.

I realized then that the only thing that was wrong is that I let things pile up, and I wait until the last moment to address them. As Ellen DeGeneres says, “Procrastinate now, don’t put it off!”

Problem is, those small project demons lurk at the back of the mind and pop up randomly to break my concentration and momentum. Result: disorganization, anger, self-flogging—and of course, who wouldn’t want to put that off?

As I sit trying to write the Publisher’s Letter, I’m being bedeviled by the master bath toilet tank. It howls like a banshee when flushed. Nothing like listening to it wailing in the middle of the night!

That’s a quick fix, really. Five minutes. But that banshee has been whining for about four or five weeks now. Then there’s that little piece of peeling shower grout, right about eye level where you can’t miss it. I’ll knock out the banshee and the grout hole in the same “Honey Do” session—first thing tomorrow, maybe the next day. Someday.

The point of this letter is to say that procrastination brings on easily-avoided stress, anger and distraction. I will be having my morning coffee and looking forward to productive activities, when suddenly those little nagging thoughts creep in to destroy my organized direction. Worse, they bring along their favorite travel companions: fear, loss of control and possibly a slightly queasy stomach.

The solution is actually quite simple. As Janet Dailey has said, “Someday is not a day of the week.”

Each day, take a dedicated 10 to 15 minutes, to do one or two nagging little projects. That way, while they will always pop up, they won’t pile up. Nothing feels better than knocking that whispering little devil off your shoulder.

In case you’re wondering, that devil looks nothing like my editor. Or my wife.