On a Thursday night at 5 p.m. I looked at my planner to find that I had five—yes five—papers due the next day. As the panic began to set in, the small voice in my head screamed at myself. After all, this was entirely my own doing. Yet, strong and confident, the faithful procrastinator in me stepped forward. So assured, she silenced that voice of fear and declared “You’ve got this! Buckle down and kick these papers’ asses!” That’s not to say I aced them all, but I did finish all five that night with time to spare. Success and procrastination aren’t mutually exclusive when a dash of motivation is thrown into the mix.
Procrastination is my middle name. I never do anything until I absolutely must. I’ve never actually managed to save flashcards throughout the semester and use them to study for the final final. I’ve never made outlines for chapters as I read them. Lord knows I haven’t come close to completing readings for any class I’ve ever taken.
For a long time, my habits of procrastination—characterized by binge Netflix, Facebook every ten seconds, weird workout kicks, snacking turned feasting and so much napping—stressed me out. I realized I was causing my own panic. Yet, I didn’t change my ways, and I don’t think I’m alone. Many of my friends procrastinate, pull all-nighters and wait until the last minute whenever possible. We are the strong, the relentless, the easily distracted. We know that.
However, recently I ran into trouble with this technique. As a writer for College Magazine, I have to abide by strict deadlines and must contact sources and get quotes for pieces. Yet, much to my dismay, most people don’t run on the same schedule as me—gasp. If I need a quote, a source or to schedule an interview, the odds are minimal that anyone will drop everything on a dime to help me out. I realized that I needed to make a change.
First, I told myself to think of CM like a class, but that approach was doomed to fail from the start. In classes, you get grades and have a handful of assignments. For CM, and any other writing outlet, your success is rewarded with little more than a good feeling and bragging rights; my motivation has to come from me.
Lucky for me and my fellow writers at CM, the pride that comes from writing something that people choose to read and pass along is enough. I have the opportunity use my voice to discuss student-related issues while creating a reputable portfolios and learning from my editors.*
Having conquered that hurdle for CM, I wondered why I procrastinate so much on my schoolwork. To be honest, I can better justify not having a 4.0 if I pretend I don’t care much about my grades or have the excuse of having done the work at at the last minute, and part of me genuinely doesn’t care what grades I get as long as I’m learning. I’d rather expand my horizons by networking, interning and putting myself out there in productive ways. I’m willing to put off working for a grade to acquire a wealth of knowledge about things I love.
For me, breaking my nasty procrastination habit was just a matter of finding something I give a damn about. So, I guess I’ll keep writing.
*A big thank you to my editors, Victoria Moran and Mckenna West, for putting up with me so ardently and supportively.