It’s a disease (or a gift?) to be able to postpone things to the last minute. But, I wouldn’t even call it postponing because that implies some sort of effort…hmm…oh, well. I’ll think of a synonym later…
Yes, we’ve all been victims of procrastinating both large and small projects, and of course, science says writers are repeat offenders. This is not news to me, as you’d expect. For it wasn’t that I didn’t want to write about whether Hamlet was actually “mad” in his eponymous play in high school, it was simply that I wanted to do other things more. Like watch full marathons of Say Yes to the Dress and analyze why pretty girls chose ugly dresses.
And procrastinating is a habit that seems, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, as unbreakable and insurmountable as other unhealthy routines like smoking cigarettes or eating junk food. And it’s not without its perks: the adrenaline high of completing a project or finishing a task as the deadline is closing in, as the wire pulls taut around your neck, is simply exhilarating. Why else would we do this to ourselves time and time again if we didn’t get some strange pleasure out of barely getting things done?
Of course, this was my mantra in college. At any given time, I was so tired from staying up studying and writing that I was almost completely awake and energized. I lived in a constant state of finishing a paper only to start another one a few hours later (one I had known about for weeks). Then, when I was removed from the gentle hands of the American educational system (I can hear you chuckling through the screen) and into my study abroad experience, my procrastinating only worsened. At finals time, I wrote two 15+ papers in the span of 24 hours. (Of course, I’m sure you’re all skeptical and unimpressed by this because this is all coming from the girl who writes daily, but this is the part where you gasp in amazement for dramatic effect.)
I convinced myself that I didn’t have “time” for papers, and I let it all go, until I sincerely did not have any time to write my papers.
But today, in life’s infinite wisdom, and through the tried and tested methods of age, I have come to the following conclusion about procrastination: the homework that is known is better than the homework that is yet to be done.
Meaning this: do a little bit each day and you won’t feel so bad about putting it off.
Because here is the rub, keeping with the Hamlet theme earlier, if you know you’re a procrastinator, then you shouldn’t kid yourself about it. You shouldn’t even begin to tell yourself that you’ll start the project early when everyone knows you’re lying. Just accept that it is a part of your identity. For example, Clark Kent is a huge part of Superman, even though it is the dorky, not-so-awesome side. Procrastination is the Clark Kent to your secret superhero identity.
So, embrace your procrastinating side. However, plan for it. If you know you are going to procrastinate, then make sure you have enough time to do so. I promise, the looming feeling that you get when you think about a project or issue that you have to resolve is so. much. worse than actually pulling yourself away from wedding shows and just doing the thing. Then, when it’s done, you’ll feel accomplished, and you can reward yourself. With more wedding shows.
The point is, don’t spend so much trying to change your ugly habits. Instead, make them work for you.