I am in my last month of graduate school, so I’ve written several hundred (or thousand really) papers, journal reviews, scripts, news stories, etc… I can say with complete honesty and integrity that I have procrastinated on every single one of them. While some would argue that this isn’t something to boast about, I completely disagree and here’s why.
Procrastination has taught me many life applicable lessons. As I go on to conquer the real world, I am confident that I can work: under pressure, under intense deadlines and have instilled in myself a remarkable sense of urgency. All of these qualities are due to the art of procrastination.
Let me be clear right from the get go, I think there is a definite difference between procrastination and laziness. But, like me and several other college/graduate students have come to realize… if you want to do it all, procrastination is essentially your only choice. I work three jobs, produce the college news, host a television show, star in a local reality series and am a graduate student. My plate is full, in fact I would argue that I have two plates…and they’re both full. But, because on top of graduate school (and all of the commitments that come along with it), I’m also trying to land a big kid job after graduation; I have to take on everything. Saying no is not an option if you want to build up your resume. So, how do you get through it…procrastinate. It’s not as easy as it sounds, you should have a strategy when you procrastinate. Yes, wait until the last possible minute to develop that strategy…but have one nonetheless. So here are my five simple rules to conquer the art of procrastination.
• Know your deadlines. If you aren’t turning things in on time, you’re not procrastinating…you’re not doing…well anything. As a semi-professional procrastinator, I always make a point to turn in things in on time. Not early, on time. So, how do I go about doing this? Well, let me tell you. If I have a deadline, I usually calculate the longest amount of time it will take me to work on that, and subtract thirty minutes. This ensures that you will work with a since of urgency. I work great under pressure, so things will flow out of me when I don’t have time to think about them. There’s no time to debate, just time to write.
• Go to bed. If I start writing a paper at ten at night (usually after my favorite television program is over…more on that in a second), I’m usually too tired to finish anything by the time 1am roles around. So, I’ll take a 2-3 hour power nap, wake up and go H.A.M. on that paper (yes, that’s a JAY-Z and Kanye reference). Even if I get just a couple of hours of sleep in, I trick my body into thinking that I’m not pulling an all-nighter. This usually stops me from getting sick. Plus, this instills even more of a since of urgency…’cause if you take a power nap, you’re down to the wire.
• Don’t multitask. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attempted to write a paper whilst catching up on Glee or Gossip Girl. Notice I said attempted, because, it just doesn’t work. I’m not telling you not to watch Glee or Gossip Girl…I’m just saying stop writing your paper, enjoy the show, then work on your paper. Most people would tell you to write your paper and then watch the show. I couldn’t disagree more. I can’t focus on a paper when I’m wondering if Blair is really gonna date Dan Humphrey, or if Rachel and Finn are really gonna go through with their vows?!?! So, I say watch you show, enjoy it, and then write your paper. After all, people are always telling us you’re only young once; enjoy your childhood while you still have it. Well, that’s kind of hard to do if you’re putting off everything you enjoy for another monotonous task. And by monotonous task I mean another research paper.
• Save the grammar for the end. This tip is sort of a matter of opinion, but when I’m writing a paper I don’t correct as I go. I write out everything I can think of: the good, the bad, the wrong form of their, there, or they’re, get to my page limit (usually minimum) and then start correcting. I find that I usually feel a lot more accomplished when I reread what I wrote after it’s finished, and then make the changes. If I’m too caught up on the wording or grammar in a sentence, I won’t move onto the next one. Instead, I just focus on writing the paper, even if it is piss poor. Once everything is written out (no matter how poorly), I go back and make the necessary changes.
• No excuses. I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed someone coming to class without a paper, but with an elaborate excuse. You know the saying “Excuses are like ass-holes, everyone has one.” Well, I’d like to add to that, excuses make you look like an ass-hole to everybody watching. The rest of the class was able to finish the paper, most of them probably wrote it the night before too. Don’t think you deserve any kind of special treatment because you are lazy. Like I said in the beginning, you haven’t mastered the art of procrastination if you aren’t turning something in on time. You’ve simply proven that you are lazy. So, suck it up and procrastinate.
People always tell me I will look back and miss the days where deadlines hang over top of me, and I have no time for sleep. I am here to say that I look forward to a day when I only have to work. Not work three jobs, take classes, and be involved in several extracurricular activities and prepare myself for the real world. In the meantime, I should probably get back to writing my thesis…well after I check Facebook.
You can read more from Jason Ikeler o his blog.