When I started grad school last fall, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed little shit. “I’m an adult now. I’m going to kill this. I will be organized and do my homework and PUSH THROUGH and have a Masters degree and make so much money that I just build a house out of money and eat money for breakfast and set money on fire in the fireplace which is also made out of money”, I thought, in that annoying high-pitched voice that women use when they’re making fun of something another woman said.
“This time is different,” I smirked, head held high as I walked out of an 8-hour workday and into my first night class in my classiest biz-caj outfit. There was NO WAY I’d fall back into the same patterns that plagued me during my undergraduate, high school, middle school, elementary, pre-k/daycare, and in-utero educational careers.
Bless my little heart. Even now, 2 semesters later, I truly remember believing these things about myself. Denial is a powerful drug. For a fleeting second, I could almost understand how my ex still thinks he’s “a good person” and “handsome”.
Friends, I’m talking about procrastination. According to a study that I just made up, procrastination is the 2nd biggest problem facing people in my generation (right after that new strain of medication-resistant gonorrhea). Procrastination is a nasty habit to break, and that’s coming from someone who’s successfully quit smoking more than 50 times!
I’m not here to tell you how to quit procrastinating- if I knew, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing a fucking blog post about it instead of reading about transactional cost theory. I’m here to propose that, like many other bad habits, procrastination sneaks up on us using the same distinct pattern every time, and EVERY TIME, we fall for it.
1. BRIEF ANNOYANCE
Uuuuuuuggggghhhhhh. A 5-page paper, due in 2 weeks?? But… why? Why, at an institution with a solid academic program for the field in which I’ve chosen to pursue permanent employment, would I have to write… a PAPER???
2. OVERCONFIDENT INITIAL PLAN
Okay. 2 weeks is 14 days. Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to read the 8 suggested articles this week. That’s 2 per day. Then next week, I will write 1 page per day. BOOM. 5 pages. Piece of fucking cake. I am Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds.
3. A CRACK IN THE FAÇADE
*settles down on couch with glasses, articles, highlighter, mug of tea, trophy for being the smuggest little douchebag*
“Here we go! 2 articles tonight, no excuses.”
*reads 1 page*
*rewards self with 5-minute Twitter break*
*phone buzzes* “GIRL WHERE ARE YOU, WE’RE ALL AT WINE WEDNESDAY AND WE MISS YOU”
*sprints out door*
Repeat for 10 days.
HAHAHAHA! EVERYTHING IS FIIIIINE! First plan was stupid anyway. YOLO; jagerbombs; sleep til noon. You still have 3 days which is basically 3 years. For 5 pages?! Please. You’re Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds, remember?
Dear Lord Baby Jesus, lying there in your…your little ghost manger, lookin’ at your Baby Einstein developmental…videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors…
Forgive me, for I have sinned. I have besmirched the name of academia, and all that it stands for. For my transgressions, I could not be sorrier.
But maybe if you could just drop a small meteor near campus over the weekend while it’s empty and no one is there and I would have JUST ONE MORE WEEK TO
2am, the night before the deadline. Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.
After staring at my tiny laptop for 6+ hours, my tiny, ineffectual words begin to blur on the screen.
Why do I continue to inflict upon myself this constant cycle of psychological torture? Life could be so easy. And yet here I sit. Toiling. Miserable. A rubber band stretched just shy of snapping.
“Hey, this is pretty fucking good!…
(clicks submit button)
8. DAMAGING BRAVADO/REINFORCEMENT OF NORMS
…and behold. I did it all… in only 2 days.”
Because life is too short to spend in a textbook (or a mental state that doesn’t involve near-constant tension headaches)!