Archive for the ‘procrastination’ Category

My Struggle with Procrastination

June 5, 2009

UC Santa Cruz requires incoming students to submit a “Statement of Legal Residence.”  This is a simple printout; basically your address, a few dates, and the standard legal document fare.  The document popped up on the UCSC portal “to do” list the day I was accepted. After a few months of slacking off given its late due date, I finally had a moment of inspiration a few weeks ago and decided to get the shit together. I printed out the form, hassled my mom for her information, emailed my dad in Atlanta, and was ready to go well before the deadline. But I never quite got around to actually sending it.  A little unsure of the specific deadline, I looked it up again on June 2nd…only to see that the form was due on June 1st.

If that wasn’t bad enough, even after seeing this, I still didn’t send it in. Following a slight panic, I convinced myself the paper was just a stupid formality, and it didn’t matter if I sent it in a little late, so I stopped thinking about it.

Now that might well be true. But it also might turn into a giant clusterfuck of stress and admissions confusion.

This is not an isolated incident; it is reflective of my entire work pattern. This is the exact same mental framework that causes me to procrastinate and waste time on the dangerous levels that I do.

Everyone has the urge to procrastinate.

The difference is, productive people have found smart ways to trick themselves into doing work, to their own long term benefit.

Conversely, procrastinators have found ways to trick themselves out of doing work, to (at least what seems like) their short term benefit.

This issue of using my time wisely is a big part of why I started this blog – I want to keep track of my thoughts and opinions. Throughout high school I have been a terrible student. I don’t get much work, and even less that challenges me, but I always stretch that teeny amount in such a way that makes me as stressed and unhappy as possible.

Why? I’ve justified it in a lot of ways, but I think most of them are just me trying to mask what is pure laziness by inventing an underlying existential crisis. I mean there is a lot of fear involved when it comes to starting anything school related, and maybe some of it is linked to a greater ennui and dissatisfaction with life – that might enhance the reward reaction on the online distraction side anyway. But I think mostly what stunts me are that these time wasting habits that are so deeply engrained in my lifestyle.

I recently became a subscriber to the “Study Hacks” philosophy. http://calnewport.com/blog/category/tips-fighting-procrastination/

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, the site basically explains how to maximize your time as a student by studying efficiently, and keeping yourself active and interested. Now this probably sounds like psychobabble, but with a mother who has single-handedly contributed thousands of dollars in books and lectures to self help gurus, I come to the field especially skeptical.

Study Hacks offers specific, counterintuitive insight from a level headed voice.  The guy has actually researched and compiled techniques used by top achievers that don’t dedicate their entire being to relentless study, and instead find balance. It’s like a cheat sheet into time management, and it’s the first thing in a long time that has inspired me to actively change how I approach things instead of just whining about it.

As the above example proves, I’m clearly not over my self destructive habits, but now I’m setting out a plan of attack against them. I don’t want to make the same mistakes in college that I made in high school. My lifestyle and self-deceiving brain have ruined countless opportunities, socially and academically, and ultimately made me a less fulfilled and functioning individual than I could have been at this point.

I actually feel like I am at a good place right now to reset. Will I ever be able to send in my Statements of Legal Residence? Will I even be able to perpetuate this blog? I hope so. Right now, I’m just trying to trick myself into change.