The perils of procrastination

Everyone’s procrastinated at one time or another. We’ve all been there: leaving the washing up on the side for one too many days, eschewing the library in favour of lounging at home, or constantly putting off work for an impending deadline. Sometimes, doing easy stuff (or not doing anything) is far more enjoyable than tackling an urgent task.

And as we slide into week 3 of a new semester and my enthusiasm for early morning lectures and an ever growing pile of work starts to wane, I’m realising how much I delay actually completing any of it.

It’s been a problem of mine for a couple of years. While for my first couple of essays in first year I left plenty of time to write and edit them, in the last year I’ve been handing them in barely finished.

In fact, I’ve been leaving all my work to the last minute. In first year, this approach paid off: after neglecting all of my assignments for a few weeks, I frantically wrote the bulk of an essay on the day it was due. I achieved a high first. Then, a couple of months later, the same thing happened. I achieved yet another high grade.

In my second year, I continued the approach of starting assignments late, believing that like the last couple of times, I’d achieve high grades. Too often, you’d see me slumped over a computer in the IC in the early hours of the morning, with a desk cluttered with cans of red bull and empty coffee cups.

Sure, it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences: unable to do an all-nighter, I’d get up at 4am, adrenaline soaring from the knowledge that an essay had be in for 12 o clock. That day. But the stress seemed to make me work at my best; it provided a newfound sense of urgency and freed me from grappling with writers’ block.

Then my grades started to slip. I’d hand in essays when they hit the word count, not having time to proofread or improve them. One time, with two essays due in a day after another, I only managed to complete one of them. Too tired from an early morning expedition to the library, I found myself unable to eke out intelligible sentences to form another essay. I handed it in late, and had ten percent deducted from what was already a mediocre essay.

Everyone has moments of procrastination; a lot of students will, from time to time, leave an assignment to the last minute. It only becomes a problem when one’s procrastination is persistent. For me, my procrastination mainly stems from a desire for my work to reach up to some intangible high standard. Of course, boredom and lack of interest in certain modules also play their roles. But consistently putting off work, for the most part, results in much unneeded stress and anxiety around exam period, and often, far lower grades than one might have achieved otherwise.

With my last few months of University looming before me, I’ve promised myself that I’ll procrastinate less. When completing an assignment, it’d be nice to enjoy the process of writing and the intellectual stimulation that that provides, as opposed to avoiding completing it out of a tacit fear that it won’t be “good enough”.

And there may be benefits to finishing my essays a little earlier than normal; I can enjoy a totally guilt-free Netflix marathon in celebration!

Yeah, I live on the edge…

One thought on “The perils of procrastination

  1. I can safely say that I am in the exact same boat as you! In first year, I started well before the due date and finished in a calm manner, happy with my work. As the years went on, this productivity dwindled where I’m pulling all-nighters to finish the assignment on time. It’s interesting how our productivity decreases the closer we get to finishing university. You’d think we’d be more inclined to manage our time and ensure a well-written paper. It seems we may be the ‘thrill seeking’ procrastinators – the ones who believe that we are more productive under pressure, which is why we leave the work until the last minute!

    It’s great that you have recognised that you should make the start earlier. I recommend you try a very effective time management tool called the Pomodoro Technique – which lets you work in small intervals! If you visit my blog and scroll down, you should be able to find it 🙂



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