This is a public service announcement. Procrastination is not a useful tool to make you feel less stressed about what you need to do. Just do it!
As a full-time student working in several different positions on campus and balancing a weekend job, I often feel like I’m juggling all my work and homework in a time frame that just can’t accommodate everything I need to get done. All of these things can get overwhelming for students, especially in the home stretch before summer. When this happens, there is something I like to take part in that makes me feel better at the time, but leaves so much more damage after. This little tidbit of fun is what I like to call procrastination. At the time of participating in procrastination, I feel distracted by all the things I need to get done giving me temporary relief, but when I finally commit to doing those things I put off, I’m at least three times more stressed.
Procrastination works in mysterious ways. There are three different forms of procrastination that affect people, especially busy college students who just want to run around in the summer sun.
First, there is denial procrastination. Denial procrastination happens in a few different ways. Some examples of denial procrastination would be rationalizing time-wasting activities in the misguided belief that you have plenty of time to do whatever it is you are putting off till later. Characteristics include mental conversations like “it is just a two-page paper. I have plenty of time to do it after I look through a few pages of funny cat photos.” These kinds of internal conversations are traps! Not too long after buying into it, you’ll find yourself through 300 pages of funny cat photos and no academic progress to speak of. In this situation I suggest a switch up to the activities. Instead of waiting to do the productive thing after the fun thing, do the productive thing, and then celebrate with however many funny cat photos you can indulge.
The second procrastination is just the opposite of the first: head-on procrastination. This often happens under the context that someone knows they are procrastinating and that they shouldn’t, but they still do. You may have seen this with your friends or roommates on occasion. Characteristics of head-on procrastination are usually verbalized to a person who is socializing when they should be studying. For example, you might be sitting in the union building when a friend sits next to you on their phone checking their social media apps. They may sigh and say, “Gee, I really need to write that paper for English class. I really shouldn’t sit around.” Yet they continue to post statuses, or tweet about how stressed they are. They know what they need to be doing, and are completely aware they are procrastinating. I suggest, in this case, to be honest with yourself. You know what you need to be doing — now do it!
The third and last procrastination style is the most deadly. It is the sneak-attack procrastination. This is when one inadvertently procrastinates in a completely unintentional way. For example, I like to watch television while I eat dinner when I get home from school. What always seems to happen is I’ll put on an awesome throwback television show like “Malcolm in the Middle,” and I’ll just continue watching it even after I’ve finished eating my dinner, therefore never getting around to doing my studying. Another procrastination phenomenon that seems to catch me quite often is sleeping. I insist that I have a condition of some sort and its trigger is my couch or bed. If I get at all comfortable somewhere, I am asleep before I even think about closing my eyes. Then I wake up all confused like I’ve just been in a coma, like, what year is it? I suggest in this case to run. Oh, and obviously get your work done!
When I’m not accidentally sleeping, I’m usually still using sleeping as a tool of procrastination, rationalizing it as “I need it.” And most of the time I do, but that is because I’ve stayed up all night doing homework that I procrastinated doing. It can become a vicious cycle, which is why I insisted on warning you through a column I also procrastinated writing. As the queen of procrastination, I ask you to learn from my ways by identifying when you are being affected by procrastination.