There really are only a few things that I believe myself truly, unabashedly, and unapologetically good at. And right at the top of that short list is procrastination. It’s a gift, I don’t mind saying. Since college, though, I’ve learned to temper said gift to some small degree. I set schedules with alarms that blare annoying, piercing sounds, or program them to play some song that I utterly despise (at the moment it’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi; I started this because I used to set my clock radio to NPR and then just lie in bed on the weekends listening to the news or Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, sometimes for hours when I should have been at work). At times, I lock myself in my office through the early morning hours, and periodically on the weekends. I set my phone to vibrate and make sure to leave it on a different floor of the house so as not to be distracted by friends calling and luring me to this oh-so-cool thing that I already knew about and hadn’t had the slightest inclination to join, but now that I am about to sit down and work, well, that sounds like a great idea. That last one might have more to do with with nerves or anxiety, than procrastination (the effect is the same though). After all, you can’t fail at something that you haven’t started. But boy, when I was in college did I truly have a penchant to procrastination. I once wrote an 8-page paper given to me at the beginning of the semester an hour before class. I don’t remember the grade I got on that one, but I do remember walking to class reading it and turning red over the many, many typos and terrible constructions contained therein.
I know I’m not alone in this fact. If I were to take a poll of undergraduate students and ask, “How long does it take you to start an assignment with a deadline a month away?” I’m pretty sure I’d get a response of at least 75% answering three weeks. But that is slight consolation. The great men and women of arts and letters and science, what did they do? How did they circumvent the universal desire to watch a half-a-day’s worth of infomercial GIFs? Well, as it turns out, they may not have had the fortitude and robotic determination that you may have thought.
So, for this time of year when many of you are beginning to have nightmares of unfinished term papers growing legs and a lust for destroying cities, I figured I’d give you some advice, and show that there is some hope.Well, maybe I shouldn’t be the one to give you advice (see everything above). Maybe I’ll let someone with credentials and accomplishments speak for me. Here is a link to a series on how many artists and writers and scientists got done all the great work that they did.
Hope that helps.