The irony of this blog post is that I wanted to have it up before the New Year, but as you may notice I am very skilled in this art of procrastination. A procrastinator is someone who puts things off until the last minute or just decides that he or she won’t do something now if they can do it later. So this type of person gets a bad rap and is identified as the opposite of a go-getter or proactive. However, everyone has procrastination in them. There are a few of us who still haven’t written down our New Years Resolutions though they have been thought about, and others who made those resolutions a month ago and waited to start them on January 1st. Think about it, that is a form of procrastination.
But I would like to point out that procrastination isn’t all bad, it takes some skill and talent to do it. Just like in every weakness there is a measure of strength in it that just hasn’t been utilized correctly.
I think back on my middle school and high school years when I never wanted to start on the project when it was assigned and very frequently found myself staying up late the night before it was due to finish it. At times the entire project was done the night before. When I think about this I am amazed that I only actually fell asleep in class once (we were watching a movie and the lights were off, so who could blame me?) and I actually passed all of my classes with respectable grades. Midnight first drafts turned in for final grades, you can’t say there wasn’t some kind of strength in that.
Procrastinators have a talent for getting things done when they have to be done and recognizing the time it takes to do things. Some of my classmates agonized over papers for weeks while I only spent one night and got just as good or a better result. Procrastinators know how to be more concise; they can cut out the extra work and condense it into a lot less time.
Now that I have glorified the despicable habit I will point out the other side. Those nights that I spent throwing together my first and final drafts of projects were filled with panic and anxiety. I avoided weeks of stress to compile it into one night. The real reason I think I didn’t fall asleep all the time in class is because I was probably still running on adrenaline. I have also looked back at some of my old assignments and realize that I really could have done better. Your brain doesn’t function as clearly at midnight as you think it does.
I am still very active in practicing this intensive art, however I have had moments when I apply a strange, twisted version of it and it’s pretty incredible. I am currently taking online classes, with two weekly deadlines. There are times when I have scheduled events and activities that conflict with midnight assignment completion. So a few times I have created my own deadline, thinking that if I didn’t meet it I wouldn’t have time to squeeze in the work to meet the real, posted deadline. (I am more clearly unable to function well at midnight than I did in high school.) The amazing thing that happens is that I don’t have the full weight of the stress because I know I haven’t really run out of time yet, but I still get the job done within the time I have allotted myself. Of course I was doing the assignments on the deadline day I had given myself, but it still got done. Who knew I could be proactively procrastinating?
I’ve started to recognize how I function as a procrastinator and that the greatest talent that comes with it is being able to block out the time and just pound something out until it’s done. Realizing how it all works I am able to adjust in a way to make it easier for me to not load up my nerves with anxiety and adrenaline and still get things done. This does come with another challenge though, I have the idea that I need enough time to get the whole job done, but when I see that I have an hour or half hour before I need to be doing something else, I challenge myself with a deadline. I try to squeeze in an assignment or project into that time. Maybe it’s something I can’t do in twenty minutes, but I can try to get a certain portion or chunk of it done. All of a sudden I’m like the normal people who do things the way they’re supposed to – starting on a project when it’s assigned. But the way I process it is different.
So for all of you procrastinators, especially writers, realize that the real deadline might be when you die, but you can create your own deadline and do it way before then. You just have to take your habit of procrastination and make it an art. There is a quote I heard or read somewhere about procrastination that goes like this “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” -Unknown. So maybe your preferred deadline has passed, but you can always create a new one before the final one. Make your own deadlines and make procrastination an art.
How are you going to make an art out of a presumed fault?