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November 7, 2012

Overcoming procrastination: Let me get back to you on that

Come Christmas Eve, you will find thousands of frantic Santas dashing through the aisles, grabbing boxes at random and snapping at one another. Come Halloween morning, we create long lines, waiting to run through the costume store. All year, we knew the date. We had seen ad after ad, and it was circled several times on our calendar.

But here we are, nonetheless.

Why does this always happen? Is it that we start too early? Halloween came to the stores months ago, bumping into the Fourth of July as it entered. Christmas is arriving now, before Thanksgiving even gets a foot in the door. We have had months and months (and months) to see all our options and grow tired of them. And then the deadline arrives, and we go into a panic, tearing everything we can reach off the bare metal shelves.

We arrive home and stare at the six sets of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Accessories that, in our deadline-addled frenzy, we seemed to think would make appropriate holiday gifts for our entire families.

What hath the deadline wrought?

So why should it be any different with the election? That, we've been hearing about for years. It feels, now, that these candidates have always been with us. Fatigue doesn't begin to describe it. This election jumped the shark months ago, when Newt Gingrich was bitten by a penguin. Now it feels like we're in reruns.

Still, a lingering percentage of us still haven't made up our minds. The difference between the 48.56 percent of likely voters leaning toward President Obama and 48.49 percent headed for Mitt Romney in the most recent Washington Post-ABC poll is — a few procrastinators.

Welcome to Procrasti-Nation.

What makes a procrastinator? This should be easy to determine. I am one myself. To quote Douglas Adams: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." I tried to make a list of things that define the true procrastinator. Here is the list.

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