Monday, October 24, 2011

Procrastination Produces Better Results

Procrastination is a pervasive phenomena common among most college students. Rarely will you find a college student that says they rarely procrastinate, and you are never going to find one that says that they never do. (And  in either case, they are probably lying!)

Procrastination is one of few key mechanisms that students use to cope with the insurmountable amount of work that they have to accomplish each week on top of daily inconveniences such as work, socializing, and daily activities such as eating and bathing (which we would hope people do on a daily basis!). Most people regard it as a bad trait; however, many people I know (myself included) will regularly proclaim: "I do my best work when I procrastinate." And despite how counter-intuitive this may seem, I find it to be very true.

I, myself, procrastinate all the time. When I know I have a lot of work to do, my first instinct is to jump on it as soon as possible, but yet, after a few failed attempts of getting ahead (or even keeping up for that matter), I often find that under the enormous pressures of daily college life, I retreat to the comfort of procrastination, putting pretty much everything off until the last minute.

That being said, I am actually a pretty good student. With a few exceptions (especially this semester), I have pretty much always gotten A's and B's my whole life, but at the same time, have rarely gotten anything done in a timely manner. In fact, despite my academic success thus far, I can positively say that I've been a chronic procrastinator pretty much all of my life.

However, I feel like this has only enhanced my work, not held it back. When there is a looming deadline right around the corner, my work actually seems to improve in quality. I say this having just finished another essay that I couldn't be more proud to call my own work.

Procrastination, though very stressful, can actually cause a person to become more focused and to understand ideas quicker, faster, and in a more connected sort of way. When pushed to get something done, our minds automatically jump to focus in on the important details and connect things in a way that will be immediately useful, which I hold is substantially important to producing good-quality work.

However, in contrast, when due time and preparation go into a project and the understanding of a subject has been spread out over a longer period of time, it is easy to dwell on unimportant facts, take shortcuts, forget large portions of the material in a time when it would be most useful, and even to be lazy, feeling an undeserved cockiness in your preparedness.

I'm not necessarily recommending procrastination as a method of producing higher-quality of work, as much as I'm marveling a the potential benefits. In fact, I would recommend pacing yourself when possible and then working in a manner as if you had  procrastinated. Then, after spending a good day or two of really intensive work, coupled with a very good grasp of the subject from several weeks of preparation, you can even have some time to go back and review your work once your done and fix any looming errors.

However, don't feel bad if you procrastinate, and don't beat yourself up for it either. You have to realize that we all do it, even in the "real world." It's perfectly natural in a society so hell-bent on working you to death and then still demanding more. Yet, at the same time, it is important to remember that it has its up sides as well.


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