As Google puts it, it’s ‘the action of delaying or postponing something’. Although correct, the definition provides only a very basic understanding of something that I’m sure many of you struggle with. Procrastination is setting aside urgent work in favour of completing less immediate, more trivial tasks. It is purposefully finding distractions in order to avoid doing assignments with looming deadlines. It is the building mountain of unfinished homework that you will attempt to alleviate at the end of each week until, one day, you will cease to try at all. Because procrastination is also continually telling yourself the lie that you will do it later.
It is endless hours of lost study time that you will never get back. It is the torture of subjecting yourself again and again to the enormous stress of having to finish important assessment tasks or cram a semester’s worth of knowledge into your brain at 3AM in the morning. It is regret. Always, there is regret. And yet, it is something that will happen again because when your teacher assigns you more homework you will do anything, anything, in order to avoid doing it.
Being a horrific procrastinator myself, I can relate to all of these things.
We all have our own ways of evading work, whether it be spending copious amounts of time on Youtube or losing oneself in strange and obscure corners of Wikipedia. Perhaps you are one of those people who partake in the phenomena that is productive-procrastinating, some specific ones having spawned their own terms such as procrasti-baking and procrasti-cleaning. Those are probably more dangerous as it is easier to deceive yourselves into thinking you aren’t wasting time when, as a result of your procrastinating, your room, which has been a mess for the last 6 months, is now spotlessly clean and you have freshly baked white choc and raspberry muffins available to your consumption. At least you aren’t kidding yourself when you’re scrolling endlessly through your Newsfeed waiting for someone to message you so you can tell them how much work you have to do (and yes, telling people that you have a lot of work to do and not actually doing it is a form of procrastinating).
That’s another thing, a lot of the time I don’t even enjoy whatever I’m doing to avoid study. I would spend hours switching between Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and online forums waiting for something interesting to pop up and nothing would. My homework, meanwhile, would be left untouched. I thought it rather strange the lengths I would go to in order to avoid doing work. I took it upon myself to ask my Psychology teacher about it one day and she said that it was probably some kind of psychological problem. I’m not quite sure how comforting it was to hear that my horrendous procrastinating habits were probably attributed to a psychological illness. I guess we chronic procrastinators can take comfort in the fact that it’s a shared struggle between all of us.
Going into Later Years, and especially in Year 12, you will be required to attend a whole lot of ‘study tips’ and ‘how to cope with VCE’ type lectures. And if you are like myself, you will leave each one feeling extremely guilty and inadequate because you can relate to every single thing the guest speaker told everyone precisely not to do if you’re serious about VCE (which more often than not includes procrastinating). They attribute the tendency to constantly put off important tasks to the fear of failure or pure laziness, both of which may be true. However, it is hard to take on board their advice on how to stop procrastinating when most tell you to ‘just do it’.
Well, in essence anyway. Just turn off social media. Just eliminate all distractions. Just put your mind to it. You see, all of these things are valid, however they require something that all procrastinators severely lack: self-discipline. And it’s quite difficult to gather up something you don’t have in order to input these intervention methods when you’ve been procrastinating so long that it has become part of your very nature.
If you’re someone who has related to everything in this article as a fellow procrastinator, you might be feeling a little hopeless now. However, don’t give up yet because here’s the thing: because we’ve been putting things off continuously for so long, we’ve become experts at getting things done in the last minute. So although it won’t make up for all the lost time, if you’re still struggling with procrastination in the late stages of VCE (say, two months before exams) you can still turn it around.
Because you do care about VCE and you do care about how well you do. When the time comes, you’ll be able to pull yourself out of your bad habits, even if it’s only temporarily, in order to smash your exams. You’ll be gripped with the same motivation and drive as those who were blessed without procrastinating habits throughout the year. You’ll step up and perform when it matters, because you have to and you will.
I absolutely believe it.
You’ll just do it a little later than everyone else.
- Written by Anna, who was supposed to write this ages ago