Procrastinating has become a part of the cliche college kid’s lifestyle. Every college student has spent their time watching “Friends” on Netflix or finally organizing their folders instead of doing the assignment that they know is due in a matter of hours. If you try to tell me that you haven’t ever done this, then I will have a very hard time believing you. Everyone has had the procrastination monster show up in their life unexpectedly. It has become a rite of passage.
I have tried for years to overcome the hold that procrastination has on my life, and will most likely continue to try and beat it. While I haven't found a “cure” for procrastination, I have found a way to make life easier in spite of my natural procrastinating instincts. You may not be able to beat procrastination, but you can make life so much easier by embracing the procrastination.
Before you go on your way thinking that I am simply justifying what you consider to be a ‘poor work habit’, consider this, there are many different styles of procrastination. Everyone is affected in different ways by procrastination. Some people know how to properly handle their procrastination, while others let it mindlessly control their lives - leading them to miss deadlines or forget to do their assignments all together.
Procrastination in and of itself is not bad for you. However, it becomes bad when you allow it to take control of your life and form bad habits of putting things off. For example, when you find yourself watching Netflix instead of writing that paper due at midnight just because you don’t want to do it, then it has become a hindrance to your daily life.
Procrastination is simply a stalling method that we use to put off doing the more important things like homework. People may find themselves sharpening pencils or organizing their desks because they need a way to put off the most important task at hand. Procrastination is not the devil if structured properly. And yes, structuring your procrastination to make it a tool is possible and it will change your life.
According to famous philosophy professor, John Perry, structured procrastination is ordering your tasks from the most important to the least important and adding to the list as you begin to think of new things to do. At the top of the list are the most important tasks, the tasks that your brain wants to distract you from. At the bottom of the list are the equally useful things that are not as time sensitive as the tasks at the top of the list. This gives you a schedule of sorts that you can go by that will keep you on track.
After creating this list, all you have to do is start at the top and work your way down. If your brain tries to distract you from the task at hand, write down what you feel like you need to do so that you can do it later. By writing the distracting task down, you convince yourself that it will get done later and you have time to focus on the more time-sensitive tasks at the top of the list. This gives you the ability to embrace your procrastination in a way that does not keep you from getting your work done.
Procrastination is not all bad, in fact, it is a coping mechanism for the brain to deal with stress. It helps people to take a step back and reevaluate their current situation. Some even believe that procrastination can positively affect your decision-making skills by causing you to take time away from the decision at hand and come back later with a clear and fresh mindset.
When you find yourself procrastinating, be sure to structure your tasks. Procrastinating with no structure is just putting things off, which is never going to end in your favor. Keep your eye on the prize, but don't get mad if you have a few minor detours along the way. If you can’t beat procrastination, embrace it.