Being an English major of mediocre ability, I have spent many a’nights staying up and writing thousands of last-minute essays – all while cursing the gods of academia for my procrastination and thinking, “What the f*ck have I been doing with my time!?” (Well, I suppose that one night where I had to steam iron all my underwear could have waited…)
And as always, I promise that next time, I will start earlier. I will go to office hours with a rough draft prepared and go over my paper weeks before it is due. I will then print out my rewrite and go through the essay with a red pen.
When the due date finally rolls around, I will have a top-notch essay. Plus, with my astounding literary style and in-depth analysis of the topic assigned, my paper will be a candidate for the Guggenheim fellowship. At least that’s the plan. Unless of course I get trapped watching DVDs of “Friends” again, wherein my entire week will deteriorate in front of the TV and so goes yet another chance at the Guggenheim.
Staying up 24 hours “doing that thing you should have done days ago” is such a common occurrence. No matter how sick you felt the last time drinking all those double shots or how much you stank it up like garbage from not showering for three days, it’s bound to happen again. Might as well accept it and follow my suggestions the next time you dig yourself that hole.
First, it’s crucial that you must eat, shower, and clean before you do anything. I know that when I begin to start a mega-ton 12-page essay, it really helps that I do things along the lines of alphabetizing all the cereal boxes in the cabinet. There’s just something about doing things along the shredding all my receipts and bank statements from months past, or color coordinating my clothes in the closet, that helps me research the fall of the Soviet Union that much more efficiently.
And don’t even mention how I am determined to take a 10-minute shower, but then end up disappearing for an hour-and-a-half. My friends think I’m doing something naughty, but I’m probably doing one of two things. I’m either: one, sitting down with intentions to take a break, but then accidentally end up falling asleep in the shower for 30 minutes, or two, I’m crouching down and crying for an hour about how screwed I am about this paper.
Take copious amounts of naps. Experts say that if you ever want to pull an all-nighter, be sure to at least take a one hour power nap between the critical hours of three and five in the morning, when your brain needs sleep the most.
But what do experts know? Probably nothing about procrastination since they turned in this study on time. My one roommate that has any sort of foreseeable future has this policy where for every two hours of work she finishes, she naps for ten minutes. I adhere to the same rule, except I reverse the numbers. My six to eight hours of “naptime” rarely gets the job done, but the “F” I get on my essay is actually my professor’s way of congratulating me on my Full Night of Sleep.
Keep telling yourself those delusions that got you in this mess in the first place to help you procrastinate at an even greater rate. After all, life isn’t going to end if you leave out the conclusion in your paper. So go ahead and make that Facebook album at five in the morning, titled “Random” and fill it up with photos of things that only you understand and are as irrelevant as they are uninteresting to other viewers.
Or what about the fact that you’ve never not turned it in on time? You’ve always made it, so be confident that you will eventually finish your economics homework despite the fact that you haven’t started, it’s six in the morning, and you’re playing TextTwist online. And remember, pressure turns coals into diamonds (and at the rate you’re going, you’re probably going to turn into a five-karat African blood diamond).
LYNN LA is glad she stopped procrastinating this quarter. In fact, she [note to EIC: Hey Richard, I haven’t finished writing this yet, I’ll do it later….] E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to encourage her to keep up the good work ethic.