Learning by doing whether I like it or not

I admit it; I’m a procrastinator. Unless I’m super-excited about a project, or I have a firm deadline, I just … don’t get things done very quickly. There’s always something more interesting to do, read, plan, or tweak than the thing that’s due on Friday. I think, “I’ll get to that tomorrow.” To combat this, I block of hours of time in my schedule and assign them to projects, tasks, and communication that needs doing within particular timeframes. The problem with this approach is that it lets me push deadlines to the very edge. On the other hand, as long as I do the job, on time and effectively, does it matter exactly when I did it? It’s a good question, and until something shows me that my current model isn’t working, I’m sticking with it.

However. Today I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. As my husband and I got ready to go to our morning Reference meeting, I was grumbly about what I have to do today, along the lines of “I need to record the narration for my virtual presentation, and I don’t want to. I’ve never done it before, and I don’t feel like learning something new today, but it’s due today, so I can’t stall any longer.” He patted me on the head, metaphorically, and in the course of our conversation I realized the utter ridiculousness of what I was saying, given the nature of the virtual presentation in question.

The presentation is for the ACRL/LAMA Spring Virtual Institute, and its topic is “Integrating Training and Doing: Teaching Social Software While Getting Things Done.” What was I objecting to doing today? Learning something new? While finishing a project on time? Which could be described as learning one thing while getting another done? Which is exactly what I’m advocating other people do?


In the end, though, my grumpiness proves my point. I would not, today, have chosen to teach myself how to add narration to PowerPoint. I would have continued to say that I’d learn it later, or that someone else can learn it, or… whatever. Unless I had a deadline staring me in the face, like today, and unless I had an actual, tangible work product that required I learn the skill, like the ACRL/LAMA presentation, I would have put learning this skill off on another time or person. But because I do have a firm deadline and a tangible work product, I taught myself how to do it this morning, and after lunch I’m going to record my content.

Once I’m done laughing at myself, I’m going to go into that presentation narration with renewed conviction that my ideas are sound — because I just proved it.


  1. Years ago I used to say that I was resisting the notion that I was one of those people who “works best under pressure.” Finally, I had to face the sad truth that I ONLY work under pressure.


  2. It’s a damning cycle, really, because until I have too much to do, I’m not working at capacity, but once I’m working at capacity, I have too much to do.

    I struggle to accept this as my best working model. It just doesn’t seem efficient. Other people don’t operate this way… and yet… it seems to be working for me?


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