Mark Twain once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” These profound words encompass a philosophy that I like to model my life after. Most people look upon procrastination unfavorably; however, procrastination can actually be quite a wonderful thing. Some of the best memories I have are ones that occurred when I was procrastinating. If one were to examine closely procrastinators, he or she would discover that there are really two types of procrastinators: those who procrastinate because they just do not feel like doing the task at hand and those who procrastinate in order to get other things done. I prefer to think that I am of the second breed, with only the occasional instance of the first breed sneaking in here and there.
Imagine with me a typical night where you have an overload of homework. Maybe this does not happen to you; maybe you are on top of your game and never procrastinate. For those of you who do, you have a paper due tomorrow and a test to study for. You sit down, fully intending to start right away on your paper and move gracefully into the paper writing, but wait! you realize that something just isn’t right about your desk. This brings us to our first stage: adjusting the environment.
So you have just realized that there is something wrong and unworkable with your desk. You have papers strewn everywhere, your books are not put away and stacked all over the place, and you have a sizable stack of dishes piling up on the corner. Who could possibly work with such clutter? Then the adjusting of the environment begins. To work efficiently, you must have an environment conducive to be productive, thus you must clean up your desk. This cleaning cannot just be a cursory clean. The cleaning involves making piles, reorganizing, and rediscovering all the junk at the back of your desk drawer that you forgot was there. After you do a thorough cleansing of all the clutter, junk, and general disorganization of your desk, then there is the inevitable: “Well, my desk is clean, might as well continue with the rest of the room!” And so the cleaning of the rest of your room commences. Now I could continue with full detail on the process of cleaning up the rest of your room, but for time’s sake, I am going to leave that up to your imagination.
Now that your desk (and room) is finally clean and conducive for work, you finally settle in to write that paper and study for that test. Since writing a paper automatically means that you must be on your computer, you might as well check your email so there will be no more distractions detaining you from your paper writing and studying. This brings us to the next stage: email, networking, and catching-up.
In this email, networking, and catching-up stage, there are many smaller, simpler steps. This stage can actually get quite involved and may take several hours. It starts out by simply checking your email. In your inbox, you will most assuredly find a stockpile of emails that you have meant to respond to but just have not had the chance to. Therefore, the email responding begins. This can take up quite a bit of time depending upon how long you have let those emails sit in your inbox. When you are almost done with the email, you realize that there is a notification from Facebook, and thus, the next smaller step of the larger email, networking, and catching-up stage commences: Facebooking. Now Facebooking is really a subset of the networking part of the email, networking, and catching- up stage, but currently, it really deserves its own title. It starts out by innocently logging on to Facebook in order to attend to whatever the notification was about, but it ends up getting more and more involved as you begin to see new and interesting things. Your friend that you haven’t seen or talked to since high school just posted new pictures of her cat. Your ex-boyfriend just changed his status to “in a relationship” with that cheap girl he always used to hang out with. Your friends have been having a wall-to-wall conversation of epic proportions, and you just HAVE to know what they have been saying. Thus, the Facebooking continues in a like manner for at least an hour. The final smaller step of this stage involves catching up, which could be a subset of the Facebooking step, but it can also branch out into a reading of a favored blog, a “quick glance” at your favorite news site, and the like. Admittedly, this process could get quite involved and probably needs no further explanation.
Now that much time has passed, and you really need to start working on your paper, you turn off your wireless in an attempt to no longer be distracted by the wiles of the Internet. Then you realize that you have no clean clothes to wear tomorrow. Since procrastination is a lifestyle and not a casual occurrence, it has seeped its way into every area of your life, including your laundry. Thus, you enter the next stage in the art of procrastination: the everything-I-should-have-done-a-long-time-ago stage.
The everything-I-should-have-done-a-long-time-ago stage is actually quite self-explanatory and probably needs no explanation from me. This is a catchall stage that includes a laundry list of possibilities (no pun intended): laundry, calling back your mother, filling out that application, searching for a job, editing a friend’s paper, and the list goes on. These tasks can no longer be ignored and must be completed because they have been put off for far too long. So in favor of putting off that paper and studying that you have so successfully been putting off all night, you complete your to-do list.
Once the everything-I-should-have-done-a-long-time-ago stage is complete, hours later of course, you are now finally, and that means finally, ready to start your paper officially. You bunker down in your clean room, with your wireless turned off, laundry done, and the daunting list of to-dos finally complete and with one quick glance at the clock, you realize, it is now 3:30 in the morning and you have class at 9:00. Oh well, guess that paper will just have to wait until tomorrow.
To come tomorrow: an update on grad school.