by David Healy 

Why put off till tomorrow what you can put off till next week?  Or, better yet, why put off till tomorrow what you can make somebody else do?

You might consider yourself to be an expert procrastinator.  Maybe you even put the “pro” in procrastination.  With the Spring semester now past midterm, those end-of-course projects are burning a little brighter on the syllabi’s final pages.  For many students, this one included, waiting until the last minute to do things is, well, how things get done.  Of course, procrastination can cause all kinds of unnecessary stress, and—worst-case—can lead to work production that is far below your best.  But the news isn’t all bad if you fall into the procrastinator category. 

There are many types of procrastinators, but we can take a look at two types.  First, there is the procrastinator who just doesn’t want to do the work and maybe has an intense dislike of the assignment style (writing a big essay, doing some technical lab write-up, or whatever).  This person, the casual procrastinator, just wants to avoid the pain of doing the assignment and is simply putting it off till the last possible moment, possibly even asking for an extension, or maybe spending a few hours trying to calculate a final grade if the assignment is left undone.  Though I’m a a big-time procrastinator, I’m not a casual one.

professor skipping rope with seaweed

The second type of procrastinator I’d mention is the active procrastinator.  This idea actually comes from an NPR interview with John Perry (above), author of The Art of Procrastination. The “active procrastinator” still waits till the last minute to do his work, but rather than merely putting it off and not thinking about it, this type of procrastinator thinks about the assignment pretty regularly, churning over ideas in his head, maybe even imagining what a perfect version would look like, maybe even fantasizing about getting the work done early.  For this active procrastinator, however, work is rarely done early, and my attention is snapped into focus by a looming deadline, the pressure a major motivation.

Whatever your style of procrastination, do your work and remember the wise words of Bill Watterson:

“You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that?

Last-minute panic.”

For more procrastination inspiration, and something to do while putting off your 40-page essay on the Rhetorical Theory of Greater Sage-Grouse Mating Rituals, click here.

Image credit: "Camera Cleaning" by fadi117 is licensed under CC0 1.0

Published: Mar 22, 2019 12:52pm