I am writing this as I fly to Reno, NV to attend the Wild West Veterinary Conference (what an awful name!). Why did I pick this conference over all others, do you ask?

  • Is it because I’m a big gambler and am planning to ditch the educational sessions for the craps table? (no)
  • Is it because the topics that are going to be covered are especially interesting to me? (no)
  • Is it because I’m combining business and pleasure so I can write off the cost of my flight on my taxes? (no)

Do you really want to know why I’m going "All the Way to Reno," to quote R.E.M? It’s because I’m a procrastinator. My Colorado veterinary license expires on October 31st. Part of my licensing requirements is that I obtain 32 credit hours of continuing education every 2 years, and during the last 2 years I have obtained exactly 0. So with two weeks left on my license, I know need to get all 32 credits taken care of and there is only one conference that will allow me to do so in one fell swoop; the Wild West Veterinary Conference.

Now, I knew that I was going to face this dilemma ever since I renewed my license the last time around, so if I had been on the ball I could have had my pick of conferences. But no, procrastination got the better of me, so it’s off to Reno I go.

I have taken to calling myself a structured procrastinator based on John Perry’s essay and book on the subject. Here’s a quote from the essay. I haven’t read the book yet, but I fully intend to … someday.

All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.

That’s me to a "T." I’ve gotten a lot of quasi-important stuff done while not registering for a conference on which my veterinary license depends.

I’m actually looking forward to this trip. Some of the educational sessions do look very interesting — I’ll keep you updated with anything new that I learn — and I’ve never been to Reno, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. But you know what the best part of this trip is going to be? The chance to meet fellow veterinarians from Colorado whose licenses expire in less than two weeks and who are procrastinators just like me.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: CIMG6210 by David Boyle / via Flickr