Thought Catalog

What I’ve Learned From A Short Lifetime Of Procrastination

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There comes a time when you realize that an old approach to some things is just not working as well anymore. There comes another time when you realize that old approach is still not working and you do something about it.

Throughout high school and the first two years of college I manage to do decently well by procrastinating. I was really good at it, and I think a lot of people got by using the same strategy. Although I don’t think it was really a strategy but more of a lack of a one. For the most part it was all smooth sailing until things got a little more difficult halfway through college.

In an attempt to boost up my resume in preparation for graduation, I took on two jobs and a full schedule of classes. One of the jobs was writing for the school paper. That really honed in my ability to do some of my best work under pressure. That and my other ability to write while drinking and edit sober (or while drinking less depending on the stress level of that day). A lot of my last two years of college revolved around deadlines, barely meeting most of them on time. I never found the right balance to things to avoid procrastinating. This resulted in lot of stress that manifested itself in little sleep, a weight gain, a sometimes a feeling of dread that would rest in my stomach.

Through it all I managed to get good grades, write good articles, and do a good job at my other job. And ultimately, I learned how to think fast and work under pressure. Getting by on procrastination wasn’t working as well and it was hurting more, but it still made things work.

Immediately after undergraduate school I went to graduate school. Before starting classes I vowed that I would approach work differently. While I did an overall good job with most things in college, I didn’t really like that feeling leaving things to the last minute created in gut (on one specific occasion a friend swore it was an ulcer caused by stress, but it proved to just be bad Thai food that time). Grad school was going to be different. I was going to get my shit together.

Good intentions only lasted about three weeks. I managed to pull off grad school without procrastination at the beginning, but then out of financial necessity I got a full-time job. As I tried to balance both, a long with living in a new city and taking time to explore it ‘s bars, I began to have a hard time navigating through graduate school, a full-time job, and creating a social life. Thus once again I began to procrastinate on a lot of my schoolwork leading to finishing papers during lunch, napping during lunch, and on the rare occasion calling in sick (which wasn’t to far from the truth seeing as 36-48 hrs without sleep can make someone feel sick). I lead the healthiest of lifestyles.

After graduate school was over I swore that I would take more control of my life and stop procrastinating. I had more time now so I would be able to exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and really apply myself at work. It hasn’t been long since I graduated from grad school, but I’ve half-assed all of these things and the other things I had set up to do post-graduation.

I even procrastinated writing this article. Well, not writing this specific article, but writing in general. I was supposed to have done this in the fall. While I love to write, I procrastinated the same way I did in college, graduate school, and now work. The fact that there are no deadlines that have real consequences made it easier to put getting things done off. I find that to be dangerous. For a while there was always tomorrow and that mentality is what kept me from creating a healthy exercise routine, spending time preparing meals at home, practicing my French, reading more, and from doing a number of other activities that I enjoy or have been wanting to try.

It’s really time to stop procrastinating. That approach that worked in undergraduate and graduate school is not the best to use when you’re trying to make significant life changes. Similar to that there are other skills and abilities we once relied on that are no longer as successful now. With age most of those skills were improved on or were completely replaced with new ones. However, some manage to sneak by. Every now and then take time to evaluate what is no longer working like it used to and can be change. For now I’ve learned that when you procrastinate on doing things that are beneficial to you, you procrastinate on yourself. TC mark

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