Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas: A Weird Heat Companion

Anyone who knows me knows I become deeply rooted in traditions. I would be hard-pressed to think of another holiday that carries more tradition than Christmas. I do not think I am alone. Most people I know do the same things every year this time of year. I think these holiday routines are what make this time so comfortable.

First off, I am fully aware not everyone celebrates Christmas. I do think, though, this holiday season (whichever you celebrate) is the biggest of the year. Even if you personally prefer Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day, the effect of the collective winter holidays is undeniable. For seemingly the whole month, business picks up at stores, traffic gets busier, and many workers get time off. Even if someone does not celebrate, the holiday season is inescapable. I cannot think of another holiday as pervasive.

A dozen people will give a different answer for their favorite part of the holiday. This is particularly unique for this holiday. In about ten seconds of brainstorming, I can come up with food, family, religion, cards, movies, presents, weather, decorations, music, vacation, and so on. Likely, any of these would be considered acceptable answers.

Of course, there is a dark counterpart of each of these positives. For all the good food, there is overeating; for all the gifts, there is consumerism, commercialism, and materialism. For music, there is “The Little Drummer Boy.” We all encounter these dark truths at some point or another, and we have to avoid letting the bad overshadow the good. The winter holidays are a time for joy, after all.

Also interesting is how the importance of this holiday can change almost yearly. Presents start to matter less, for example, while family time may grow more precious. For my part, I appreciate how the general mood everywhere is a bit friendlier. Sure, stress levels are at the year’s high, but still most people prove to be more cheerful and giving. More people are reflective and give thanks, a sentiment everyone can get behind.

Whatever you do this time of year, whichever holiday you celebrate, I sincerely hope everyone reading this has a fun, safe, relaxing season. Peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Procrastination: A Weird Heat Companion

Procrastination is often seen as a bad thing—putting off something dreaded in favor of something more enjoyable. It certainly adds unnecessary stress, but I do not think procrastination by itself is a bad thing. For instance, I like deadlines. In fact, I would barely be able to function without deadlines, so I often end up needing to imposing them on myself.

Back when I had deadlines for school, I struggled with one type of procrastination. Say I had a term paper due at the end of the semester. I would start on the project incredibly early, maybe within the week it was assigned. I would feel so good about actually beginning the work that I would shelve what I had done until it was almost due. At this point, I would dig out the work, now two to three months old, and attempt to rejoin my thoughts, stringing together paragraphs with linking sentences. Needless to say, it was not the best way to work.

I look at procrastination more as a way to prioritize our to-do list. Just having a deadline is enough to ensure something is done. For most of us, then, the important things will rise to the top. The most notorious procrastinators I have known make the claim that all their best work is done the night before something is due. Whether or not this is true is besides the point.

I also think putting off work in favor of more relaxing activities can put us in a better headspace to get the work done. After all, how good can our work be if we have not taken any breaks? At the very least, a relaxing break can refresh the brain for a bit. This may be a stretch—even putting it in words seems like an excuse—but there is some truth to the axiom, “All work and no play…”

Instead, I think the direct danger with procrastination lies with the speed at which we try to accomplish the task. If you run right up to when something is supposed to be done, you will likely rush and the quality will suffer as a result. The balance, which is different for everyone, lies somewhere in taking enough time to be comfortable finishing the product and allowing enough time to be successful.