by Michaela Kwoka-Coleman
Procrastination is more than just a means to avoid doing something you do not want to do. It's a fine art—reorganizing my closet, cleaning my bathroom, watching a five minute video of middle-schoolers slipping on ice—these activities are things I would surely never do unless I was running away from my adult-ish responsibilities (actually that video is really funny, you should watch it here). Even in the midst of procrastinating, I can’t help but think about the tragedy of the situation in which I’ve found myself. Truthfully, this post is being written to further avoid the four chapters of political science reading I've been putting off since the spring semester started (oops, I really hope my teacher doesn’t read this). Besides homework, I can easily think of at least three other things I should probably be doing right now—going to math tutoring, finding/applying for internships, filing my taxes—but, as any seasoned procrastinator would say, “I’ll get around to it.”
That previous statement has turned into the battle cry of our lifestyle: “I’ll get around to it”... so ambiguous and oh so self-destructive. It is true though. Eventually, we do “get around to it,” but always at the last possible second, and not without every possible difficulty and roadblock along the way—cranking out a paper only to find out the printer doesn’t work; studying for a test when suddenly the Internet goes down; mailing your brother’s birthday card two days after his actual birthday and somehow the roads flood and you have to buy a canoe to paddle to the post office and then fight off ten men for the last of the stamps. Of course that last one was a bit of an exaggeration, but you see my point. If you’re so inclined, here’s a little timeline of my typical procrastination trip:
4:00 pm- Get off work, and head home with the determination of completing all my school work.
4:30 pm- Arrive home, turn on the TV, and head to the kitchen.
4:35 pm- Go back and forth searching for food between the fridge, cabinets, and pantry (repeat 4-5 times).
4:45 pm- Settle for a bowl of cereal.
4:50 pm- Tell myself I’m going to start my homework at 5:15 pm.
5:15 pm- Tell myself I’m going to start my homework at 5:30 pm.
5:30 pm- Decide to go running.
5:45 pm- Come back from running after 15 minutes feeling like an Olympic gold medalist.
6:00 pm- Roam the kitchen again.
6:15 pm- Finally turn on my laptop.
9:15 pm- Suddenly realize I’ve been reading BuzzFeed articles for literally 3 hours.
9:17 pm- Start making lots and lots of coffee.
9:20 pm- Begin having a mini mental breakdown over all the work I have to do.
9:21 pm- Check Twitter and Instagram.
9:30 pm- Shower, with every intention of pounding out this homework right after I get out.
9:50 pm- Stare at a blank Word document.
10:00 pm- Type heading.
10:30 pm- Finally write a sentence.
10:45 pm- Delete said sentence.
11:15 pm- Write a very, very rough random body paragraph.
Midnight- Study for anthropology quiz tomorrow.
12:30 am- Continue staring at Word document.
12:45 am- Make one last pilgrimage to the sacred fridge.
1:00 am- Say, “Well, I’m obviously not getting any work done. I might as well go to bed.”
I’m pretty sure this scenario is enough to make anyone in academia cry.
Now, being a procrastinator is not always a bad thing. Seriously, the papers I write at 3 a.m. on the day they’re due more often than not yield higher grades than the ones I meticulously work on over the span of weeks. Honestly, I’m not sure how, since it usually feels like I don’t know what I’m talking about and my sentences don’t make sense and just kind of ramble on and on and on, much like this one. Maybe it’s my own raw intelligence kicking in? Probably not, since I repeatedly find myself in this horrific situation. Furthermore, I’m not even sure how I do it! Continually pulling all-nighters then going to school and work—it can’t be good for the body.
So, how do we do it? Short of an Adderall prescription, coffee really is the next best thing. Without it, most of my all-nighters would not have been possible. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I can chug a cup of coffee faster than your average frat brother can shotgun a beer, and I’d be more than willing to put my theory to the test. More important than how do we do it, is the question of why. Why do we not break free from the shackles of procrastination? Laziness? Forgetfulness? Lack of focus and motivation? General disregard for anything that doesn’t interest us? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a combination of many elements, and maybe it’s different for each person. Maybe it’s that some people just work better under the pressure of a close deadline. Just as there is no easy answer as to the genesis of procrastination, there is surely no easy answer regarding why we practice it so faithfully or how to break free of its grip. My solution: “Know Thyself” (Socrates really does transcend time). If you know you’re prone to this habit, plan accordingly. Make provisions to deal with the all possible outcomes of your date with procrastination. Maybe attend a study skills work shop (I’ve been meaning to go to one for a couple of semesters). The biggest thing is to not let it get the best of you and to know that you’re not alone. Your fellow procrastinators are here to help you by posting links to pictures of cats wearing sombreros as well as posting misguided political posts on Facebook (personally, I enjoy grabbing a bag of popcorn and watching people tear each other apart in the comments section).
Now, finish reading this pointless article which only helped to enable your procrastinating tendencies, go watch that video (I know you want to), and get some homework done.
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