The benefits of procrastination

If procrastination is so heinous, why do so many of us still do it?

The honest answer is that in spite of the rushing and the stress, procrastination is awesome.

I would guess that more procrastination happens in November than in any other month of the academic year. For the past four years, I’ve spent every October frantically studying for midterms. Although I’m usually a procrastinator, I always try to plan ahead and get plenty of study hours in before the tests.

Of course, that means that by Nov. 1, I’m completely drained.

The worst part about midterms is that you don’t get a break after them.

After midterms you go straight back to classes. For most of us that means extreme burnout. And for those of us that are procrastinators that means that we’re back to our usual selves.

Without time to recharge, it seems like the only way to stay sane is to pretend that an impending project doesn’t exist until the last minute.

Procrastination has a bad reputation. It’s no secret that it can lead to all-nighters and anxiety. On a college campus it’s considered one level above copying and pasting an entire paper.

But when you really think about it, procrastination is an important part of student life.

If my checkbook is balanced and my laundry is done that generally means I’m avoiding homework.

As a matter of fact, any time you see me doing something I’d normally find tedious or unpleasant it’s because anything is better than another hour of outlining.

That’s because procrastination is the opposite of the whole “carrot at the end of the stick” theory. Reel in that fishing pole, unhook the carrot and replace it with that moldy slice of bread from the back of your fridge.

You don’t run towards something you hate. You stay away from it as long as you can. Compared to that green, fuzzy Bunny bread, just about anything looks good.

If your choices are between writing a 10-page paper and cleaning your bathroom, then you’ll probably clean your bathroom. The paper will get done. The only difference is that you’ll write it at 3 in the morning instead of 3 in the afternoon.

When you think about it that way, procrastination makes us more productive.

If you spend all day carefully highlighting a chapter, making flashcards and quizzing yourself, then you’ll be bored out of your mind.

If you’ve ever been studying and suddenly realized that you’ve been reading the same sentence for five minutes then you know what I’m talking about.

In theory, taking your time to go over all of the information is great.

But the reality for a lot of us is that we won’t pay attention to what we’re doing. It’s so easy to skim a chapter if it’s the early afternoon. What’s the rush? You have all day and all night to study.

The problem is that by 10 at night you’ll realize that you have nothing committed to memory.

If you only have a small amount of time to prepare for a quiz, then you will completely devote that time to studying. Chances are you’ll remember more facts than if you leisurely flip through the chapter all day.

With procrastination, you never get bored.

There’s a certain excitement to racing the clock on an assignment. It’s such a great feeling when you win that race.

When I turn in a paper on time after just having completed it minutes before, I feel like Rocky Balboa after he runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Speaking of famous movie clips, think of all the great YouTube clips and websites you’ve found because you were procrastinating.

If it weren’t for avoiding homework, I would never have seen Paul Vasquez get way too excited about a double rainbow. I would never have seen cats ask for cheeseburgers using awful grammar.

I wouldn’t understand half of the jokes I hear on campus. Clever pop-culture puns on graphic t-shirts would go completely over my head.

It’s not just about the internet.

Procrastination brings friends and families together.

Think about it. If we all managed our time responsibly then when would we ever see each other?

Procrastination means putting off work to go to Rodeo Bob’s with friends you haven’t

seen all semester.

It means driving home on Saturday to eat dinner with your parents instead of getting a head start on your millionth powerpoint presentation.

I’ll admit that there are times when procrastination is not the best way to go. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get to work.

Another important note: procrastination means that you wait until the last minute but you still finish your homework.

If you answer two out of eight review questions, go to sleep and then turn in an incomplete assignment, then you aren’t procrastinating. You’re failing. There’s a big difference.

Procrastination isn’t the big bad wolf some motivational posters would have us believe it to be.

So to all of you out there trying to decide between tailgating and heading to the library this homecoming, I’d like to remind you that you only live once.

And it’s amazing how much living you can do when you’re putting off homework until tomorrow.