Photographs by Meadow Linn

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Procrastination: Productivity's Secret Ally?

As it turns out, I'm a procrastinator. I've always thought of myself as a take-charge-get-it-done kind of person, but the truth is…I let the dishes sit in the sink until there's no room for any more, I put off packing for a trip until the last minute, and I let my lawn grow so long it's more jungle than putting green. In school I always thought I was a step ahead of my classmates who begged teachers for extensions and pulled all-nighters to finish history papers and lab reports, but in my adult years I have discovered that actually I have quite a knack for putting things off.

This Is How Animal Fur Gets on the Couch
Last week, I decided to devote the weekend to organizing my tax documents. So, what was the first thing I did Saturday morning? I decided to clean my house. That makes sense, right? I figured I would be able to concentrate better in a clean and organized environment, which is true. But what started out as a quick tidy up, rapidly progressed into washing the dishes, sterilizing the counters, sweeping the floors, and scrubbing the sinks. This led to a load of laundry and then another and another. I would get to the taxes soon, right? I just needed a clutter free environment in which to work…at least that's what I kept telling myself. The carpet was polka-dotted with tufts of dog hair, so I decided to get them with the vacuum. Once it was out, I figured I might as well vacuum the whole house. Then, I noticed that there was cat fur on the backs of the couches, so I used the upholstery attachment and sucked that away too. As long as I was running the washer, I decided I might as well launder the curtains, the bedding, the dog's bed, the shower curtain, the bathmat, and all my sneakers. Since the shower curtain was in the wash, it seemed like a good time to scrub the tub and shower (something I despise) and give the rest of the bathroom a good scrub down too.
Romanesco Broccoli from My Now Weed-Free Garden
The morning was quickly progressing into midday, and I needed to feed the chickens and collect the eggs, but when I was in the backyard, I noticed that my vegetable garden was full of weeds. It was such a beautiful day! I told myself that it wouldn't hurt to pull a few weeds…I'd still have enough time to work on my taxes, right? The ground was soft and the weeds came out easily. In practically no time at all, I'd amassed a large pile, which was very satisfying, so I kept going. Eventually, I ended up weeding all six raised beds and all the weed-infested walkways between them. And while I was at it, I decided to plant some more snap peas too.

Somewhere between pulling chick weed and planting peas, I decided to give up on the idea of doing my taxes that day. The weather was too nice, and I realized that by working so hard to avoid working on my taxes, I had actually been more productive than I'd been in ages (I paid my bills too…did I mention that?). Sometimes when we're avoiding one thing, we inadvertently find ourselves doing the things we usually avoid. In the past, I've thought of procrastination as the thing that makes me watch daytime television and take naps at noon, but I've discovered that procrastination can actually be a great way to get stuff done. What are you avoiding? Of course, it's probably best just to do it, but if you're going to put it off anyway, what can you do in the meantime that you wouldn't have done otherwise?

Grilled Filet Mignon (or Halibut) with Procrastination Pesto
Serves 4

Having given into procrastination and receiving its gift of productivity, I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner. I went to my local butcher and bought two small medallions of local, grass-fed beef filets that I grilled and topped with homemade pesto. This is a quick and delicious meal that can be made when you're procrastinating or when you're celebrating all the stuff you got done while putting off doing something else.

4 thick (or 8 thin) filet mignon medallions
1 1/2 pounds halibut (approx. 1/3 pound per person)

1/2 cup raw walnuts
4 cloves of garlic
1 handful (.75 ounces) of italian parsley, large stems removed
4 handfuls (4 ounces) fresh basil, large stems removed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

To make the pesto: Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a stainless steel blade. Do 30 to 40 one-second pulses until the ingredients come together in a uniform sauce but still retain some chunks. Allow the pesto to rest for approximately 15 to 30 minutes to let the flavors marry. It may taste a bit piquant at first, but after marinating, the flavors will combine to make a sauce you'll want to eat by the spoonful.

To grill the meat/fish: Preheat a gas grill to high. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper (leave the fish plain). Cook the filet mignon approximately 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Place the fish on lightly greased foil and cook with the grill cover down until just barely cooked through, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and top with Procrastination Pesto. Serve extra pesto in a bowl for guests to add to their meat/fish. The pesto is also a great condiment for roasted potatoes if served as a side dish.

Toss the leftover pesto with pasta, diced tomatoes, and arugula the next day for a delicious and fresh pasta dish.


  1. Love this blog! And it's so true that other things that have previously been put off get done and that's a good thing. :)

    Yum! Your food look amazing and so delicious. Can't wait to try it. :)

  2. I found myself saying "Check!" with every procrastinating activity you ticked off. Could SO relate, Meadow! And what a divine meal came as a result of your pre-tax preparation activities!!! PS I think I recognize that tree!

  3. That is so funny! I do the same thing. I HAD to organize my office before I could get started on my taxes. It turns out that it actually took me longer to do that than it did to do my taxes. :-) and I'm not sure which was more satisfying, the organized office...or the check in the bank :-)

  4. Lovely blog Meadow and there really is nothing like having to sort out your tax return (as it's known in the UK) for cleaning the house.

  5. Ha ha Meadow I so relate to you with my own procrastination. I'm back in school and have my homework on the back of my mind just like your taxes. When I got home yesterday from work, I promised myself I would study for my mid-term on Monday. So when I got home, I couldn’t help but notice the pile of mail that needed to be opened and read. I went through everything, from shredding to filing. Because I was telling myself, “well Helen, you won’t be able to absorb what you’re learning with all this clutter around.” After the mail was completed, I moved on to the kitchen and finished washing the dishes, and thought “since I’m doing this I might as well scrub the stove too.” Then I moved on to cooking dinner for the fam. By the time I hit the bed I was so tired but pulled out my study material anyways. Ha ha ha that was a joke. I couldn’t remember anything on my study form. I’m happy to report that I am doing better today. I was looking over my study guide and now remember everything. So hopefully I’ll be ready for the test tonight. But I have another obstacle. I have an essay due Thursday and I’ve had two weeks to work on it, but being the procrastinator that I am I haven’t even written one sentence for it.

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