I struggle with procrastination. I often find myself choosing between doing some work a little early, and watching videos on YouTube. It seems like such an obvious answer: “just do the work now so you have free time later,” but the dilemma is rarely solved that easily.
I respond well to deadlines. If I know something is due the next morning, I will typically do whatever it takes to get it done. The ambiguity comes when I have gotten everything done that I need to for tomorrow, and know I can get a head start on other work. From what I’ve seen, everyone struggles with procrastination to some extent, and we all are familiar with the stress that comes with it. I believe that finding ways to go against this instinctive putting off of work ultimately leads to a more productive and better experience overall.
Some tasks that may seem insurmountable can quickly become very doable as you chip away at it little by little.
As I was beginning the writing process for this speech, I was faced with an impossible question. Do I really need to start writing it right now? I have a whole week until Mrs. Hillinck wants a rough draft, and I don’t really feel like writing an essay right now. The truth is, I never want to write an essay, and that isn’t going to change throughout the week. So I decided I would break the work up into smaller pieces and just do a little bit at a time. Over my high school career, I have found that this is the most effective way of combating procrastination. You don’t have to do it all at once, and some tasks that may seem insurmountable can quickly become very doable as you chip away at it little by little.
A great example of this is the I-search paper. In high school, there aren’t that many assignments that even the most determined of us can’t do in one night. The I-search is one of these assignments. Between the research, writing, and revisions, it just isn’t possible to write the whole thing in one night. When I was beginning my I-search, I went in thinking I was going to use all of my time effectively . I was going to get all of the work done in sections so that I didn’t end up with limited time and lots of work to do. I ended up with limited time and lots of work to do. I didn’t truly feel the need to get started until the threat of not completing the assignment by the deadline was becoming ever more present. The sad truth is, this situation isn’t an outlier. If anything, it is the norm.
I was able to invest the proper amount of time into each and every refinery because I had prepared in advance for the deadline.
It is extremely easy to fall into this trap of, “I have time, so I’ll just do it later.” When writing the I-search, I always had lots of homework that took precedence. I noticed as the deadline was creeping ever so slowly towards me that I hadn’t really done much. I had done the bare minimum to not get in trouble and was essentially making no progress. It wasn’t until about one month away from the deadline that I figured I might as well start getting some serious work done. I’m glad I did, because there was a lot of data to be found, interviews to be conducted, and pages to be written. This made the paper stressful and rushed, which ultimately led to an end product that wasn’t my best work. I was grateful that we had so much guidance in the process, and I had already sent out my requests for interviews and had gathered some preliminary research, because otherwise I don’t think it would have turned out as well as it did.
I was recently an intern for a company that deals with the management and prediction of stocks. My job was to gather research on 22 oil refineries across the globe. In contrast to my experience with the I-search, I decided to work for just a few hours a day throughout the summer. I cannot understate how valuable this ended up being. It wasn’t uncommon for the research to bring me to a webpage in a foreign language, and the process would get just that much longer. I can vividly remember one refinery where I spent multiple hours on a page in Portuguese going back and forth from Google translate to try to get a grasp on the general situation. Turns out they were liquidating the company. But that is beside the point. I was able to invest the proper amount of time into each and every refinery because I had prepared in advance for the deadline. As a result, I was able to enjoy the research, and could get a full picture of each company and the status of their respective refinery.
I spaced the work of questionnaires, essay writing and editing over a month, despite having more than a month to complete the task.
I wish I could say that by my senior year of high school, I no longer struggle with procrastination. The sad truth is: that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is true in the fact that I now make a conscious effort to go against my natural tendencies of pushing off assignments to their deadlines. This is something that I hope to get better at while finishing my senior year and throughout college. Contrasting my experience with the I-search essay, when I was applying to a college engineering program earlier this year, I spaced the work of questionnaires, essay writing and editing over a month, despite having more than a month to complete the task. Thanks to spacing the work out, guidance from Mr. Allen, and editing from Mrs. Forinash, I was able to send out an application that I was proud of well before the final deadline.
I believe that because I broke the work into sections and just completed a little at a time, I enjoyed the process much more, and ultimately was left with an end product I was pleased with. As we become more and more engrossed in the school year, there will be a multitude of opportunities for us to either procrastinate or choose to work ahead. I hope that after hearing about my experiences, you make a conscious effort to break these large tasks up into smaller, more manageable pieces, and you will find yourself less stressed and happier with the end result.