Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Big P: Procrastination

It is a scenario everybody is familiar with – from the hardest-working student to the easy-going couch potato: it is 3:00 AM, and what seemed like easy schoolwork a couple of hours ago now stares at you from your desk like some mountain of indigestible information. Every page you read and every sentence you write seems to give birth to a dozen more. Your eyelids weighs as much as a 1,500-page novel begging for a book report. But sleep would be a bad idea at this time, just when you have that report to do. You can barely feel your fingers going tap, tap, tap on the keyboard. The only thing that is clear is that your mind is begging, no - screaming, for a good night’s sleep and a break from any thoughtful activity… forever. Finally, when you least expect it, your bodily need for sleep takes control, pulls down the blinds and makes a comfy pillow out of the surface of your study table. Babies don’t sleep half as well. But of course, babies don’t wake up screaming and panicking in the morning over lost time and unfinished work. And by then it is back to the same old grind. Ah yes, stress, that magic, five-letter word we all work so hard to avoid. We make well-coordinated plans, schedule our lives to the last nanosecond, and yet no sooner do our planners with their timelines and budgets fall flat for an unannounced appointment with Mr. Stress (he usually comes after school hours, around four in the morning). We could blame the things we have no control over for throwing wrench into our carefully laid-out plans: that stalled dump truck that blocked the road this morning shall be the root-cause of every evil from now until next school year. Then there is the neighbor who thinks of himself as a disc jockey and therefore subjects the entire block to his collection of boom box horrors. Well of course we could just admit that we were lazy to begin with. As hard as it is to confess, the real reason we wend up doing our homework when the roosters start crowing is because we let it get there. Thinking about staying up late to do your work may not sound like a bad idea when you’re watching your favorite primetime TV show. But when everybody in the house is asleep except for you, then it will take heavy-duty chains to keep you from joining the rest of humanity in dreamland. That is what you call procrastination – the act of putting something off until the very last minute. Unfortunately for most us, our days are like machines – they consist of tightly knit plans that depend on the previous one to function properly. By now you should know that getting stressed-out starts as one little deviation from our plans due to procrastination. Old habits die hard, but one of the best ways to deal with it is to remember that putting something off could very well affect our day’s pacing. It is also helpful to deal with problems one step at a time so you also feel rewarded for little accomplishments. So kick your feet up, pick up that book and start reading – it is almost bedtime. Source: Iñigo de Paula. (2001). The big P: Procrastination. In Magica 4 (2). p.2

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