Ever since I was little, I have been told to avoid procrastination.
“This assignment isn’t something you can do the night before,” my professors would say.
“If you want to get anywhere in life, stop procrastinating and start planning out your schedule,” others would note- in attempts to help me organize my life.
I have tried to not procrastinate. I have started assignments weeks in advance and finished papers days before it was due. What I found out, however, is that this method was not particularly effective for me. I’m not saying that procrastination is a good thing and that people should always leave homework until the last minute, but I have come to realize that there are different types of people in this world who work under different systems.
The first group of people like to be organized, and plan out everything they do. Finishing a presentation a whole week in advanced, then spending the next week relaxing is how they like to live their life. It’s a healthy lifestyle, and this is the kind of life that most of us strive to achieve. We work towards this lifestyle, motivating ourselves with the idea of being able to relax.
For a long time, I aimed to become this organized person. I tried doing my homework the day it was assigned and finishing presentations days in advance. Although I had more free time and more opportunity to relax, I found that because I had done these assignments so early, by the time the topic came up in class, I had forgotten a good chunk of information on that assignment. Such a long time passed between when I did the homework and the actual utilization of the information that I was getting confused in class.
Of course, this is partially my fault for not retaining the information I wrote down and not reviewing the homework, but I’m the type of person who does not like to look at an assignment ever again after it’s been finished. When I wrote essays early, I could never sit down and focus on it until I finished.
I would write a few sentences, get distracted by a Buzzfeed article, come back to the essay to write another few sentences, then do some other homework from another class. Because I had started so long before the deadline, it would never be my priority and therefore, my focus would never be on this essay.
That was when I realized there was another group of people in this world. This group of people procrastinates, some more than others. We all have our own reasons for procrastinating, but not all of us do it because we don’t care about the quality of our work.
We procrastinate in order to become more productive within a shorter amount of time. We procrastinate because we perform better with a bit or a lot of pressure. Personally, I have found that doing assignments closer to the deadline helped me retain the knowledge a lot better. In class, it was much easier for me to remember a reading I had read the night before as opposed to days before.
When writing an essay, I found that when I started it at a time closer to the deadline, I had to prioritize it as my main assignment, and I would plow through the essay without interruption for hours. Often times, the result of essays written with this time pressure scored much better than the ones I had started weeks in advance. I was definitely part of this second group of people who worked better under pressure and thrived on that adrenaline rush.
While extreme procrastination is unhealthy, procrastination to some degree can be an effective way of working. At least that’s what I like to tell myself the night before an exam and for the 500th time, I have not started studying.