I bet you’re doing it right now. Yeah, you. I bet you’ve been up all night with an assignment you’ve been dangerously close to finishing for hours. You could have gone to bed at midnight, but instead you watched a bunch of YouTube videos and Snapchatted your friends pictures of your coffee at 3 a.m. with the caption “I HATE MY LIFE!!!!” Now, the sun is starting to peek over the horizon, and you’ve found yourself here. You have two pages left on that research paper, and yet you’re catching up on your email, current affairs, and of course, The Pulse.
Ah, procrastination. A delay by any other name would leave an assignment just as incomplete! Okay, enough with the jokes. Procrastination is real life. I’ve been doing it since I can remember; I can never bring myself to do something until I absolutely have to get it done. As far as the end results go, I’ve never had a serious problem—I get good grades, my expired driver’s license was never an issue, and I am perfectly content eating Saltine PB&J’s when I should have gone grocery shopping two weeks before.
Psychology Today distinguishes three types of procrastinators: the arousal types who procrastinate for the exhilaration, the avoiders who fear failure (or even success) because they care about other people’s opinions of their work, and decisional procrastinators who can’t make decisions and consequently attempt to acquit themselves of responsibility by simply not deciding. All procrastinators make excuses, with the most noted being “I work better under pressure.” In an article for the BBC, Rowan Pelling discredits this excuse, citing research that suggests procrastinators both complicate and shorten their lives.
“Procrastinators are less wealthy, less healthy and less happy than those who don’t delay,” she writes.
I have never considered my procrastination as being anything more than an annoying quirk. It was not until recently that I realized my habit has lessened the quality of my life and the opinions that people have of me. Last week, I was called out by one of my best friends for using the excuse of “I’m just spacey and put off studying” one too many times. I had to back out of plans to study for a test that I had been avoiding the reality of up until the penultimate day. My friend’s outburst at me got me thinking: I can never hang out with friends during the week because I am too busy scrambling to get things done for the next day. I don’t remember the last time I was able to make a big spontaneous commitment, like hiking Spencer’s Butte or taking a last minute coast trip. Procrastination makes me feel especially crazed—my relationships have suffered, and I feel a constant guilt because of it.
My friend made me realize that I have two choices: I can join Procrastinators Anonymous, or I can remember what it’s like to feel carefree and have the respect of my friends. Because of his wake-up call, I can already feel a brighter school term ahead!
Image by Rennett Stowe.