Published in El Pais, 19 September 2020.
Tarijeños surely recognize this saying: “Don’t do today what you can do tomorrow.” It is a reference to take life easy. And if we can learn something, it is that from time to time it is good to reduce the stress of life and see it with another perspective. In Tarija they know it very well. If you’ve ever been eating a good steak with a Tarija wine on the terrace of a vineyard in Tarija, you know what I’m saying. Life is not just running and working, life is to be enjoyed.
There is much more wisdom than one might think in this saying of the people of Tarija. Most who work on projects will say that you must start tasks as quickly as possible to finish everything in the expected time. So if something unexpected happened, you would have extra time to fix those problems without the boss bothering you. However, there are times when “starting as late as possible” has its monetary value.
Sure, in many situations procrastinating is not the most desirable thing to do, but research shows that it needed to take time to rethink things. This helps to relax, recharge, and perform tasks more efficient and provide a different or more creative result. Spending time with your family, reading a book, playing sports, or another hobby are much more valuable than you might think. For important tasks, these parallel activities help to de-stress, open your mind, and add more value to the work we do.
If we let work absorb us in and out working hours, we will only increase stress in our different social settings. High stress reduces productivity and creativity. The next time you are busy, try doing the simplest things first and postpone the more difficult ones without guilt for two days. Recreate and you will see that you will return with more energy and new ideas.
If you are ever in Tarija, I can recommend you buy this saying “Don’t do today what you can do tomorrow” on a T-shirt or on a sign. Thus, you will not forget that behind this joke there is a lot of wisdom to approach life with less stress and greater performance.