I have a set of patio cushions I’d been wanting to re-cover for a year. When I actually got around to doing them last Saturday, it took literally five minutes.

So why weren’t they done a year ago? Well, it took a while for me to get around to actually buying the staple gun, the staples and the plywood I needed for the job. Then, I spent hours returning the defective staple gun, exchanging the staples for the right ones and having the plywood re-cut to the right size.

When you consider all this was done with two kids in tow or whenever I could sneak away unnoticed, it’s a wonder it didn’t take longer.

Even though I wasn’t dragging my feet on purpose (I swear! I was really excited about that stupid project!), I realized how often we use shopping as a way to procrastinate.

How many times have you sat down to organize something – your closet, your pantry, your basement – and before getting started, you decide you simply can’t go any further until you’ve bought some necessary things? So you go to several different stores (maybe stopping for coffee and lunch in between) buying gadgets, shelving, cleaning products and 20 different kinds of containers, only to realize that, by the time you’re done, the day has ended?

“Oh, well, I’ll try again next weekend,” you sigh. Of course, next weekend, you find that you’ve bought the containers and shelving in all the wrong sizes and have to take them all back. (That’s why you shouldn’t shop until after you’ve done your organizing, or else you’ll have no idea what you actually need. But don’t let me spoil your fun).

My dad is infamous for saying, “I have to run to the store,” as soon as any kind of work is starting. As a kid, when we would clean for company, he would assign tasks before heading out to pick up Pledge or Windex or whatever we so desperately needed. He’d be back just in time to ask us why it took us so long.

When a house needs to be painted or a car needs to be fixed, he heads out to the store, leaving his cousin, Michael, on a ladder or under the hood until he gets back. I swear, he sits at the plaza with a pair of binoculars waiting to see when things wrap up.

I didn’t realize what he was up to until I was a teenager working at Sears Hardware. That’s when I saw all the other guys hiding out from plumbing jobs, electrical repairs and kitchen remodels, or just walking around killing time until their in-laws went home.

It’s a pricey way to procrastinate, but something tells me they would say it’s worth every penny.

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