Putting the ‘Pro’ in Procrastination: A controversial guide.
The word procrastination is often an interesting one. For a rare few, it is a friend. But for the majority, it is seen as a foe. The word itself when defined is a neutral one, but because it is associated with negative things it has gained itself a bad reputation. One question people especially students are asking themselves is: “how can I beat this awful disease?” The real answer to that question is how you handle it. I am here to tell you how you can tame this wild beast by learning to embrace it instead of hating it.
Now, this may seem like I am delving into some mad, contradictory argument. Everywhere, even here at MCNC, there are articles explaining how you can ‘beat procrastination’. It has taken me almost 5 years of my schooling career to realise that if you can’t beat it… JOIN IT!
Almost every afternoon and evening of my Macleans school life has been filled with hypnotically scrolling Facebook and other distracting sites. At the end of every evening, I am angry and stressed. I tell myself: “tomorrow will be different”. When I do this I lock myself into an infinitive cycle of procrastination. I am lying to myself and being overly optimistic. After all, even though I tell myself this, I still find myself putting things off, night after night.
It is only recently that I have come to the revelation that rather than working against it, why not work with it? After all, my lack of self-control must surely be trying to tell me something about how I spend my time.
Let me explain by launching into an anecdote. In the very first weeks of school, when I was an eager and energetic year 9, I listened to something that has stuck with me to this day. Our academic captain said that people often asked her the same question: “Why do I always procrastinate?” She answered with wisdom that I can only dream of having. She explained that we procrastinate because we believe that we are capable of getting the work done, so we constantly tell ourselves while doing other things that we will have enough time to do the task we are putting off. Thinking about it now, I realised that this is true. One main reason why we procrastinate is because we don’t want to do the work, so we do something else, anything to avoid doing what we are supposed to. We ‘trick’ our brains into thinking that we can do the work in the short amount of time that is left. A false sense of calm.
And then the storm. It is 11PM and you still have not done that maths assignment. Instead of pointlessly and tirelessly punishing yourself, consider another option.
This is where the good part comes in. Over the years, I have been slowly developing a way to harness procrastination. It does however, require work throughout the year, as well as a fair amount of self-awareness and honesty.
Being a relatively studious student, I keep up to date with my notes, as well as making sure I am confident with the material. This way, I know I am not setting myself up for failure with this *method*. I let myself procrastinate the night away until the alarm bells start ringing in my mind. Using the fuel of adrenaline I get from seeing the short time frame I have left, I delve into a frenzy of work.
What this has shown me, is I am actually forced to think and be efficient with my time. Why give yourself four hours to do something if you only have one hour in the exam? I find that this way, I actually get things done. Otherwise, you end up sitting at your desk at home, doodling and staring into space. This is a BAD way to procrastinate. You could have used this extra time to do something more useful. Like catch up on Game of Thrones or read a couple more chapters of your book.
Recent scientific studies have even shown that those who have a more limited time frame to work, do so more quickly and more creatively than those given a longer time frame.
I am however, honest to myself. I only let myself follow this if I know I can get the work done in the time I have left. If I know I will need extra time and focus to doing something, then I will give myself that extra time. Mastering procrastination is all about being realistic and exercising self-control. Let’s have a traumatic flashback to exam season. Have you realized that the more time you give yourself the less you get done? Unless you have done absolutely no work throughout the year, none of the material should be completely new. Simulate the panic of an exam and do the study at a time you know you will be forced to work.
Now, getting to this level requires dedication. I suggest in the meantime using apps like ‘StayFocusd’ to block distracting sites and having an honest look at the time frames you work best in. It is easy to get carried away and actually waste time, instead of using it well. And guys, remember this guide is entirely dependent on your own individual work ethic. This may not work for everyone. Just follow what fits you best and make changes if you need to.
I am not, by any means encouraging you to go waste time and put off work. I am just suggesting how you can figure out which ways you work best in, to avoid wasting time and actually be able to do things that you enjoy. To work with the force that has been holding you back.
Procrastination is only bad if you make it bad.
*Disclaimer* I am not to be held liable or responsible for failing assignments, grades or subjects. This guide is to be followed as a suggestion only. The reader shall take full responsible for any consequences that occur as a result of reading this article.
Written By: Elena Pihera. Edited By: Zachary Wong.