It started with my first book report in the third grade.
Reading the book was no problem, of course, but I still had to write a report and make a poster. Thanks to my familiarity with Spongebob's boating school misadventures, I knew how difficult and terrible writing an essay could be, so I effectively pushed the thought out of my mind. I finally remembered the looming project a few days before it was due, and if my parents hadn't taken pity on me and helped me put together my poster that night, I don't know what I would have done.
This first big project of my scholastic career became my gateway into the world of procrastination. Ever since that fateful night in the third grade, I have known how important it is to work on large assignments a little bit at a time in order to avoid spending one long, agonizing night on a project meant to take a week or more.
But despite the fact that I knew it was wrong, I never stopped putting things off until the last minute. I tried to change my ways, believe me. Whenever I received a rubric for an upcoming project, I tried to begin planning immediately. I sketched schematics for posters, outlined papers, checked out library books, and even created schedules for myself with plenty of time built in to gradually complete the assignment.
But project after project, year after year, elementary to middle to high school, I continued to procrastinate.
The trend has continued through my college years, though I try to talk myself out of it every new semester. After my first stressful season of college exams, I promised myself to start assignments the day they were assigned in order to keep up with the massive amounts of reading, writing, and studying I had encountered at the university. These well-intentioned efforts have all ultimately ended in vain, as I still found myself writing papers the morning they were due even in this final semester of my undergraduate career.
I have known this about myself since childhood, and have frequently tried (and failed) to change my tendency to procrastinate. But it has taken me this long to realize that my procrastination is not entirely a bad thing.
My tendency to wait on assignments, though sometimes limiting my ability to polish them before turning them in, has actually provided the pressure I needed to produce good work in a timely manner. As a perfectionist, I would spend unlimited time on every paper I write, if given the chance. But waiting until I have the pressure of a deadline gives me the motivation I need to work efficiently.
An impending deadline gives me just the right amount of stress to generate creative, problem-solving ideas for projects and papers. As a result, I sometimes find it hard to write well when I know I won't have to submit a piece for a week. But when I feel I'm running out of time, my survival instinct kicks in and helps me to perform to the best of my ability.
It can be hard to see friends of mine who work differently, finishing their projects ahead of time with significantly less stress. And I know that I should try to set personal completion deadlines for myself so I have more time to polish my work before the actual due date. But after all these years of putting off assignments until the last possible minute, I've realized that I just work well under pressure, and there's nothing wrong with that.