Procrastinators need to be more honest with themselves.
When I was very young, I used to catch scorn from teachers for my scholarly sloth. When I say “I used to,” I mean that it happened on the regular. I really took the lessons of Huck Finn to heart, except my fishing hole was located three feet in front of our home television screen. It wasn’t long before parents and instructors alike adopted the same exasperated shrug I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing.
Something miraculous happened when I neared the end of my public school years though. You see, it wasn’t that I lacked discipline, or that I needed to prioritize my time better. I found that I’m a creative learner, a purposeful-pupil of the loitering art, a fast burning match… with a very long wick. Webster’s defines a procrastinator as someone who “puts off intentionally and habitually.”
But under this new definition, I was something else. Proponents of the new philosophy will tell you that this isn’t a character flaw, that it’s simply a process certain individuals preserve and maintain energy levels. These individuals depend on anxiety to pile up until it pushes them over a cliff and into excellence. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a TEDx Talk about it… there are several of them.
The fact is, there is some truth to this. Many of us procrastinators have a hard time focusing on tasks without the looming stress of deadlines. Left to our own devices a thousand-and-one different aspects compete for our attention in the space of an hour. Even so, it doesn’t mean that procrastinators won’t use the energy excuse to explain away bad behaviour, milking that soybean until it’s little more than dust.
I’m not saying this natural phenomenon of energy conservation isn’t a real thing. It’s just that we tend to cling to this excuse far too much. Sometimes we really are putting things off. Like not doing the dishes your partner has been nagging you about, turning in assignments we know we could have done better on, or never really starting those big projects our imaginations are always dreaming up. If we were to apply the book, bell, and candle to our own motivations we’d get a few points into the book before realizing the ever-present truth; sometimes we just need to buckle down.
It’s important to remember that it’s only going to get more difficult in the future. When this new view of procrastination came into the culture -or was rediscovered depending on who you ask- educators and employers never had the foresight to imagine the arrival of things like social media. Huck Finn never had to contend with Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and Widow Douglas blowing up his newsfeed. The things that compete for attention have grown exponentially. It will be a monumental task to finish a report for work in the evening with a virtual headset, an arms-reach away, that can take us to Fiji… just until we really find that motivation. The sooner we stop making excuses and start developing the behaviour we’re always putting off the better.
Tristan is a level six wizard imbued with an enchanted Staff of Intelligence. The charming hybrid of punk, geek, and hippie culture. An avid writer, and even more avid reader. His focus covers topics like pop culture, history, politics, gaming, and science fiction.