Procrastination: The act of delaying something, postponing it, putting it off even further than it probably already has been, especially if it requires immediate attention.
For some of people, this is a word that they’ve heard one too many times, a problem that they simply don’t understand the gravity of. It’s a word they scoff at, used to describe those mentally weak and unable to think ahead. Those that are lazy. After all, to stop procrastinating, all one has to do is avoid procrastination, right? Even the dictionary thinks so.
Then there are people that can do just that, but choose not to. These are the fake procrastinators who choose to procrastinate, who chose to flit around from one thing to another and whine later about how bad their procrastination is, how terrible they have it. These are the people who could stop if they wanted to. It’s easy for them to stop because it’s a conscious decision to not stop.
And then there are people who really just can’t. When you roll your eyes and throw your hands up in exasperation and yell, “Then just stop. Procrastinating!!”, these are the people who tune you out or perhaps even pretend to consider your advice, because they don’t know how to stop. Procrastinating is as much a part of their life as breathing and eating is. It’s not even an option anymore; it’s a lifestyle. For these people, “procrastination” is a word they are all too familiar with, a word that is their long time buddy, their late-night assignment-binging partner, their voice in the back of their head, their own personal hell.
I, sadly, am one of these people.
As an eighth grade student, I think it’s safe to say that I am a veteran procrastinator, or at least well on my way to being one. Maybe even a master procrastinator, if such titles were to exist. All I, and probably you, too, need to know is that I’ve been procrastinating for a really really long time, and I can’t stop.
I don’t think I truly remember when I became a procrastinator. All I remember is that one glorious day in first grade I actually did my homework whenever I had the chance, and then never again. Even now I’m procrastinating as I write this letter, opening new tabs to check for updates on my favorite stories or browsing through my playlist for a better song, when I’m supposed to be writing a letter that’s due in less than 24 hours.
While I can only speak for myself, I think that for many procrastinators, deadlines are how we get things done. The stress, the panic, the impending doom that we know will ultimately be brought down upon us if we don’t get something done by the deadline is what drives us to stop procrastinating. It’s what shuts down the pleasure-seeking center in our brain that tells us to search up the most trivial of topics and what jumpstarts that part that will actually focus and get things done. What a procrastinator cannot even begin to work on for two weeks can be finished in a mere three hours if the deadline is in four.
And that’s precisely the problem.
For procrastinators, everything worthwhile in our lives, everything we do that we can be somewhat proud of, revolves around deadlines. And with academics, in the early years of our life when we are still teens or just entering adulthood, this is fine (to a degree). Sure, we stay up late and lose countless hours of sleep and caffeine becomes our new best friend, but we get things done. Low stress levels, sleep, and possibly our mental stability are exchanged for the fact that at least we’ve accomplished something that’ll put us on the right track.
Later in life though, that just won’t work. We lose the harsh deadlines that we once had to conform to, to work and live by. Life becomes a game of willpower. Without our own resolution and drive, we can’t do anything.
And it just so happens that a procrastinator’s biggest flaw is their lack of willpower.
We’re not lazy. We still have goals we want to achieve, dreams we want to make reality just like everyone else. However, the main difference between a non-procrastinator and a procrastinator is that while a non-procrastinator goes “I will do this now!”, a procrastinator says “I’ll save it for another day”. Eventually, “another day” turns into yet another day and the days start bleeding into weeks, months, years. The opportunity is long gone and your life has passed before your eyes without you having done a single thing you’ve truly wanted.
But the worst part is not the stress. It’s not the lack of sleep. It’s not even the missed opportunities, lost because of our own weakness. No, it’s the regret.
It’s knowing that you could’ve gotten that promotion if you worked up the nerve to ask your boss. It’s knowing that you could’ve saved your relationship if you talked it out. It’s knowing that you could’ve run your own business if you’d started to make one. It’s knowing that your life could end the very next day, hour, minute, second even and you haven’t even done something you can truly look at and smile and say “I’m proud of what I’ve done”.
It’s knowing that you had the potential to be something great, to do so much more, if only you’d just stopped procrastinating.
However, to stop doing something that’s become so ingrained into your mind that you do it without even thinking is very hard to do. To stop procrastinating is just generally a hard thing to do. I should know, I’ve been at this for years already. But even if it is difficult, even if your mind is telling you to give up and give in to this weird urge of yours to search up random information, you must persevere. And as much as I’d like to give you advice, procrastination and the ways to stop are different for everyone. The only thing we share in common is that we all have a problem and we all can’t stop.
However, I will say this: Life is too short to procrastinate. Save the regret for another day.
Link for image can be found here.