Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The price of "too busy"

I consider myself a fairly organized person. Not necessarily by choice but more because if I wasn’t, all those balls I juggle and plates I spin above my head would come crashing down on me and there would truly be hell to pay. Sure, there are tasks that if done one day late, will not cause the earth to crack open and swallow anyone up. If the grass is longer than my neighbor's or we run out of eggs and eat popsicles for breakfast, the consequences are fairly small. But I can always tell when I’ve let myself get too busy or my priorities are out of whack when bigger items that got neglected in the name of work, kids, or social agendas come back to bite me. This is one example.

My auto registration and tags expired in January. Yes, I got the colorful little reminder card and promptly put it in the handle-before-my-next-haircut-but-not-before-I-pay-the-mortgage pile. The fact that I am way overdue for a haircut is where the efficiency algorithm first went wrong.

First I lose the reminder.

Then I forget that I lost the reminder.

Because I don’t have the reminder.

So a couple months goes by. Then I get pulled over and get a ticket for having expired tags. I promise myself I will take care of the ticket and the tags the very next day. Then I somehow lose the ticket, appalled at myself for having lost two notices. Now see, tickets aren’t just issued by one bannered, city-hall like “Ticket Building”. Depending on where you were and what the offense was, it could be the Sheriff’s Dept, the State Police, or the County law enforcement. I didn’t know which one it was because I don’t have….yea you get it.

So I call every department, including the DMV, Justice Center, County Sheriff, about 5 locations in all. No one has a record of the ticket. So now I KNOW I have a ticket to pay, I don’t know how much its for, when its due, or who to pay. I’m a responsible and accountable person. On a good day. One thing I do know is that the issue won’t go away just because someone in front of a government monitor doesn’t have it on their screen. So for the past several months, I’ve called each of those departments each week to see if the ticket has shown up in the system. So far, no record at all.

Meanwhile, I still have to take care of the original issue, my expired tags. Lucky me, this is also the year my emissions are due so I have to pass that test before I can get my registration updated. So I go get my emissions inspection. Then I happily drive to the Driver’s License place so delirious in my happy-tag euphoria, that I fail to pay the parking meter.

But I DO get my shiny new registration stickers. All is well in the world, right? WRONG. While putting the tags on my license plate, my iphone falls out of my purse and the glass screen splinters on the pavement. So here’s the full scope of my lesson:

Citation for expired tags - $60 (this is a guess, ‘cause ya know, I don’t have the ticket)
Emissions inspection - $25
Registration renewal - $143
Late fee for renewal - $10
Parking Ticket - $15
New iphone* - $200
Grand total - $435

I am not proud of this at all. It’s actually quite embarrassing. But I put it out there for everyone to see because it’s a very real side-effect of claiming to be “too busy”. Being too busy is a crock. It’s a total racket we run with ourselves and others so we have a scapegoat for being in denial. We have the time. The universe has a funny way of tapping us on the shoulder when it wants us to pay attention to something. But we usually don’t listen. Then it knocks a little louder, comes in through the side door, leaves a sticky note, and then finally has to set the house on fire to make itself heard.

Pay attention. Pay the bill. Make the phone call. Make the doctor’s apt. Write the letter. Have the talk with your kids, your husband, your boss, or your dad.

Do that thing that you know you should have done yesterday. Because the price you pay to resolve it now is far less than you will pay if you wait.

*I haven't bought the new iphone yet because I'm too busy

You can comment here or visit my forum and participate in the "too busy" discussion over there!


Lucy and Ethel said...

We sound related!


Lesley said...

I felt like that a few weeks ago...Like my head to fly right off if it wasn't attached to my neck! I was just doing it to myself, too...not like I could blame something else.

Sean Hawk said...

Holly, this describes me to a T, and clearly the notion of "when it rains it pours" is not a phenomenon unique to my life. So what am I doing to resolve this? Well, I bought Getting Things Done ... but the problem is, I don't have time to read it.

Rebecca Hudson said...

Love reading your posts, Holly. Smart, witty and at the root of things - publishable today!

Jill said...

Great post. Sorry about the ticket, and the rest of the events that followed. :(

I was always told as child, that if you don't have time, make time, and that if it's important to you, you will. I completely agreed with it then, but now that I'm adult, not so much. I still agree with it, but I understand much better now how easily it is to lose time when you have a zillion things to do.

nancy compton said...

Hey - Geekmommy's hubby found a place that replaces iPhone screens. She tweeted it today. Could that save you a few of those bucks?

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