Procrastination. One of the biggest features of every student’s college life, it is almost Thanos-esque in nature, inevitable for every college student. It is universally considered a negative and undesirable trait, and rightfully so. Yet, there is so much more to the entire process of procrastinating; it seems unfair to reduce it down to something that students should actively avoid. Because, more often than not, it isn’t possible to not procrastinate on an assignment or a homework assignment that is due in one week. If students can’t avoid procrastination, then they might as well embrace it.
It is important to note that I am talking about two different types of procrastination: active and passive procrastination. One form has more positive aspects associated with it, but there is something good and productive that can be taken out from both these types.
Active procrastination refers to a type of procrastination in which someone is delaying the task at hand deliberately while planning ahead for that same task. Some might do this to utilize the pressure that comes with an approaching deadline to maximize their productivity and produce the best results. Driven by the motivation provided by this pressure, college students can produce some amazing results. To do so, students could use “structured procrastination,” a concept devised by John Perry, professor of philosophy emeritus at Stanford University, which involves shaping the structure and order of your tasks depending on their importance.
The secret truly lies, however, in optimizing your capabilities: knowing and taking advantage of the fact that you have a limited time window to get your work done.
Another form of active procrastination is associated with the creative process. You can think of this in the context of, as the Ancient Greeks used to say, “pondering” over ideas. In most cases, the best concepts for a thesis or a project are never the first ones to pop in your head. But, with time, as doubts related to your ideas start meandering through your mind, it almost forces you to refine and furnish and work through your ideas. This is when procrastination comes into the picture. The patience and time dedicated to an idea – which can be interpreted as a sign of delaying work – might just give you the spark that can take your project to the next level. In the end, the only thing that matters is the quality of your work, not the rate at which you finished it.
Passive procrastination, on the other hand, does not have any redeeming qualities, at least on the surface. The worst thing is that this is the type of procrastination most of us – including me – practice. It almost feels like you are frozen in time when it comes to your assignments until the deadline is looming right in front of you. At this point, there aren’t many options left and it might be better to just embrace the situation at hand and the pressure and fear that comes with it.
Treating the situation as a challenge or a game to convert it into something more fun could motivate people to work harder on the task and reduce the fear of failing. When this fear of failing returns, it’s important to remember that failing is fine because it is the predecessor for better work in the future, and the worst thing would be not trying in the first place.
I do want to clarify that I am not advocating for college students to procrastinate. On the contrary, this article is almost a safety kit for if you find yourself in a situation where there are no options left but to procrastinate. Or maybe, this piece is just another college kid’s attempt to convince himself that there is an elaborate reason that he is sending this article beyond the deadline.
Taru Meshram can be reached at [email protected]