Every single year my students complain about procrastination as one of the top issues. And every single year I get dozens of students begging me with truly creative reasoning for extensions on their assignments.
No good paper was ever written the day an assignment was due. A+ papers aren’t written the night before during an all-nighter as you’re buzzed from Red Bull and Timbits. Believe me, I’ve read those papers. And I’ve also been that student starting a paper at 11pm when it’s due the next day.
Eventually you have to reach a point in your life where procrastination doesn’t work for you anymore. Maybe it’s just getting too embarrassing to keep having to ask for extensions. Maybe you’re tired of staying up all night to make the deadline. Maybe you can’t handle the stress anymore of waiting until the last-minute to start your papers. Or maybe, you’re tired of receiving crappy grades on projects that you put minimal effort into and you basically didn’t learn anything.
Handing in late papers seems to be a rite-of-passage for undergraduate (and graduate!) students. I’ve been there, I was a procrastinator also. And eventually I had to stop. I remember the exact night I was staying up all night (again!) working on a sociology paper silently cursing myself for doing this yet again. I was stressed, in tears, completely anxious, and I didn’t have a clue what I was writing about. I started at the last-minute and tried writing a phenomenal paper, and as the hours ticked by, I began lowering my expectations of the grade “Oh, this is going to be an A paper for SURE…..OK, I’d be happy with a 76%…..oh, whatever as long as I get at least a 60% I’ll be fine…..shit….I hope I pass. God, this is awful, it’s embarrassingly bad. I definitely failed.”
See what I mean? Lowering your goals and expectations for success is never a good plan.
Maybe you’re one of those people who always excelled under pressure and you were always able to write decent papers the night before. –This is delusional. Just because you were able to pull off some OK grades with little to no effort doesn’t mean this is a solid career plan for you. Imagine what you could have written with adequate preparation? Imagine what grade you could have received if you started earlier? Imagine how stress-free the whole process would have been if you hadn’t procrastinated?
I was so tired of the stress that I vowed to never procrastinate again. (I slipped up a few times after that, obviously! I’m human, but pretty much since my 3rd year I figured out how to organize my time better so that I started my assignments earlier).
It feels SO GOOD to start your projects early and finish them on time. I can’t tell you the sense of accomplishment (and relief) that comes from being organized.
When you’re organized you don’t react to situations, you’re proactive.
When you procrastinate you can bet on your printer failing you at 3am. You can bet that your PC freezes up on you. You can count on forgetting to save your work and having to start all over again. The worst case scenario will always happen to you when you’re stressed and late and procrastinating.
I made this mistake as a new mother. I just expected to be able to do my work on certain days and when my daughter was sick or had a fever, my schedule went out the window and if I left my lecture to the last-minute I was stressed! It taught me to NEVER expect I’ll have time tomorrow to do something that I should be finishing today.
Because printer problems, and toner problems and word document problems and USB problems don’t bother an organized person. Sure, they’re annoying, but these little blips do not destroy organized people, they don’t ruin their days or cause anxiety, because there’s TIME. There’s time left over to fix these issue and still meet the deadline.
Organized people always leave room for the unexpected. Because that’s just life, and something always comes up.