The Story That Never Began

Procrastination is a universal problems that everyone can identify with. Our time study research reveals that difficulty in procrastinating and getting tasks done when they ought to be done is a huge challenge for employees. The humorous story below, deals with one individual’s efforsts to overcome procrastination.

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Before we begin this story, perhaps we should go back to the beginning: birth. Sylvia Slattery’s entry into this world was certainly not without incident. In fact, it was quite a dilly.

Prior to the long-anticipated event, the as-yet-unnamed Sylvia had become quite accustomed to the warm, cozy environment inside her mother’s womb. She really wasn’t in a hurry to leave. Someday soon, she would get around to it. Meanwhile, she spent many a happy hour kicking the inside of her comfortable nesting place and planning a few changes to the upholstery. The color scheme just didn’t work. And those walls would have to go.

Eventually Sylvia was born. Her arrival, about three weeks overdue, was a taste of many things to come. Perhaps it was an omen that the onslaught of her mother’s labor had coincided with the return of an overdue library book, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

While an infant, Sylvia quickly learned the art of procrastination. Oddly timed feeding sessions were not just a daily habit, they became an obsession. Just as mom was ready, Sylvia wasn’t. Sylvia preferred to gurgle incoherently—the sort of behavior normally associated with city councillors.

A few years later, on the first day of kindergarten, Sylvia waited until the second day to show up.

Show-and-Tell sessions proved an exemplary introduction to the fine art of excuse making. One day when it was Sylvia’s turn, she got up empty handed and recited a lengthy apology that displayed a level of intelligence and obfuscation well beyond her years: “With regard to the subject at hand, the aforementioned demonstration of personal artifacts, a temporary deferral is requested until a full and complete presentation is available…” Subjected to this speech, some of the kids screwed up their faces in revulsion, as if they were being offered a bowl of cold rice pudding tainted with Brussels sprouts and chicken liver. Most of them just took a nap. Sylvia’s loquacious style was to haunt her on a fateful November day years later, but more about that later.

In grade nine, Sylvia developed a new series of excuses for failing to complete projects on time. By then her teachers learned that her mother had died six times, her house had burned down on three different occasions, she had been through fourteen different grandparents and her pet dog was run over on a monthly basis. Sylvia’s penchant for exaggeration once got her caught. The dog gave it away.

Of course, when she grew up, Sylvia’s problems were of a quite different nature, but more about those later.

University life presented a whole new set of deadlines and, thus, ever more elaborate excuses for not meeting them. She was known to hand in essays at 7:00 a.m. which were due the day before. She would slip them under a professor’s door, with a predated note. One time, a professor who got wise to her methods called her to assign a mid-term report. “OK Sylvia, I’m assigning you ‘The Effect of Yodeling on Eighteenth-Century Scandinavian Pottery Making: A Comparative Analysis.’ Please call me if you have any questions. And by the way, it’s due yesterday.”

Without even thinking, Sylvia asked, “Can I get a two-week extension?”

“Oh, I suppose,” answered the all-too-wise professor. “I’ll see you two weeks from yesterday then.”

Certain events in one’s life mark a turning point. These significant occasions change us from the way we were to the way we are: the first kiss, graduation from high school, becoming engaged. For Sylvia, it was the discovery of postdated checks.

But that was surpassed by another event of monumental importance. Halfway through her last semester at university, she burst into her roommate’s room. It was a roomy room, exactly the sort of room a roommate would normally room in. Sylvia had a look of ecstasy on her face. “Guess what?” she exclaimed.

Her roommate Ignazia, who had been sleeping, feigned enthusiasm. “A new boyfriend? You got an A on that yodeling thing?”

“No, silly! I just found out you can buy stuff now and pay later! Isn’t that amazing?” The world had rarely seen better days.

Later that year, Sylvia became a charter member of the Last Minute Club. And it was no surprise that her favorite song was “Tomorrow,” her favorite mini-series was The Day After and her favorite play was Same Time Next Year.

Some people set their watches ahead to make sure they’re not late. Sylvia set her calendar ahead, though not always to great success. As a result, she once celebrated Christmas in late February.

When she reached adulthood, Sylvia refined the art of keeping up with yesterday. Her idea of a pleasant Saturday morning took place on Sunday afternoon, sitting on the front porch she hadn’t got around to repairing, sipping warmed-over coffee from the day before, reading the previous Sunday’s New York Times.

But her dilatory tactics eventually would come back to haunt her. The details can now be revealed. It was a usual day at the office, as Sylvia spent the early part of the morning starting to catch up on various tasks she had put off from the day before. As she was reading her mail, a sudden revelation of grave importance was revealed to her, as revelations normally are. Unfortunately, space is limited and so details cannot be provided. Suffice to say that whatever it was would just have to wait for another day.


from the book,  ”A Complete Waste of Time” by Mark Ellwood

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