I am a professional procrastinator. Legit.
Today’s BlogHer Prompt asks us …. “Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?”
I procrastinate my procrastination. Earlier this evening, I decided I wanted to play Mario Brothers on my Wii instead of blog. But there were no batteries that were alive in my Wii controllers… so I played a game on Facebook for an hour.
I work considerably better under pressure….. or at least, I have been professionally convincing myself of this since…. about the 6th grade. Once I figured out that I was conveniently intelligent enough that I didn’t technically have to work that hard for my grades, my work ethic was flushed down the toilet. It got worse in high school.
And trust me, it got worse in University.
I don’t think I knew how to study before University. But I got there, and all by doing my homework on the bus on my way to school or sitting in front of my locker before the bell rang (I lived a ways away from my high school… the buses did two runs… we were first run. I was always at school early). To be perfectly honest with you, I have no idea how my Grade 10 math teacher read ANY of my homework. If you’ve ever tried to ‘show your work’ while on a big yellow school bus on back roads, you’ll know that nothing gets written legibly. Sorry, teach. I don’t even remember her name… was high school that long ago?? Gosh.
All this to say… I procrastinate. I still do it, though I’ve gotten moderately more responsible. I can remember the paper I wrote for my History of the American Revolution class in 3rd year of University on the Causes of the American Revolution…. I had a presentation from 9-10 pm on Tuesday, the paper was due at 10 am Wednesday. I finished the presentation, then since I commuted to Uni, I had a 30 minute drive home to start working on this 10-15 page paper that I hadn’t even thought about yet. I got to the parking lot, and my car wouldn’t start. I fought with it, pleaded with God, called my Dad in tears… everything… I needed to go get started on this paper! Had not occurred to me that I could have started two weeks prior…. well, it’d occurred to me… but… Facebook had JUST become popular, and, well, there were notes to write and surveys to post, and people to poke. Trust me. Not a good scene. (and very little has changed)
Anyway, finally got the car started. I left the school parking lot, determined that I was going to drive at a sane rate of speed toward my bedroom and my computer, and get. to. work.
Worst snow I’d ever driven in… started five minutes out of the parking lot. My thirty minute drive took seventy minutes. It took me an hour and ten minutes to get home, because it had been icy and foggy, and then it started snowing. Underneath the growing piles of as-of-yet not plowed, not sanded, not salted snow… was a substantial layer of ice… and as the snow blew in my headlights, the fog rolled in off of the empty fields. I drove home very slowly, arriving home at 11:30 pm.
I booted up my computer and started researching and writing.
I don’t know if my fingers have ever typed that quickly. I don’t remember the stretch of time between 3 and 6 am, but I obviously wrote like my life (or teacher’s college acceptance) depended on it.
I hit print at 6:15 am, and, knowing I didn’t have to be at school until 10, I decided to go to bed until 8:30 am.
I unburied my car (remember how much it had snowed the night before), and… you guessed it… it wouldn’t start. You can’t imagine the measure of panic (well maybe you can) at the idea that I literally stayed up all night long to write this paper… and I thought it was brilliantly done at that (even though I didn’t remember a straight three hour chunk of writing)… only to not be able to go dump it in the drop box in the History department.
Not being able to get the car to start at all, I called our lovely next door neighbour (my parents were away somewhere, I forget where), and begged Jennifer, bless her heart, to drive me to school. She was happy to do so, thankfully! I dropped the paper off, on time, explained to my TA that my car wouldn’t start and I’d been driven in by a neighbour so I couldn’t stay, but here was my paper… went home, and slept off the panic.
After reading this story, you’d think that this would be the turning point in my life where I’d decide that in the future, especially in fourth year when my papers had to be 20 pages long each, and they were all inevitably due in the same week because no one in the history department ever conferred with each other… you’d think that I’d decide that this was the end and that I should plan things out in advance.
Well, I started planning a LITTLE bit more efficiently. I adopted the ‘to-do’ list… and eventually started to use it. But it took until my first set of report cards before it really had to happen. And even then, they still get left to the last minute because otherwise I’m not motivated what.so.ever.
I do create a list so I know what sections I have left to finish, but am I a ‘put my marks in in December as I finish them’ kinda gal? Absolutely not, and I doubt I ever will be.
So to answer the question… do I prefer procrastination or check lists? I’d like to think that I prefer the check list… but if history shows anything at all, it shows that I completely prefer procrastination, and that I will only get on board with the check list at the last minute, when it really matters, because it’s do or die.
**Disclaimer: To be clear, I do think that post-secondary education is an incredibly invaluable experience, and while I found most of it fairly easy to tackle, I can appreciate the struggle that many have as I’ve struggled in other areas. And to any University students reading this, thinking “hey, I knew procrastinating was fine!” I’d like to throw out my biggest regret: Slacking left me without the skills I needed when it really counted. By the end of third year and by fourth year of my degree, when my marks counted the most for teacher’s college, I was so overwhelmed by my workload because I’d never learned how to manage my time, that I was in a constant state of either panic or stress, and it took years to learn how to combat that. I still fight those habits. I didn’t get into the school I wanted to for teacher’s college, and it cost me thousands more dollars than I wanted to spend, because I had to move away from home and pay rent and buy my own food. Everywhere I’ve been has led me to where I am now, and so that’s ok because I’m happy where I am, but I honestly think that had I learned the skills necessary to avoid having to do everything all at once, I’d have saved a lot of tears and frustration.