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Column: To procrastinate, or not to procrastinate?

We have all been endlessly warned against procrastination, and often admonished by our parents or teachers when we do procrastinate.

But is it really all that bad of a practice? I have survived — some may even say I have thrived — on a strict procrastination lifestyle for every year of my life thus far.

I used to get angry with myself every night when it was 3 a.m. and I was awake writing a paper due in five hours, but I've now come to terms with this habit of mine and I genuinely find it beneficial to my learning.

People say a con of procrastination is you won’t be able to focus and get the job done, as panic and desperation will quickly become too distracting. My argument against this claim is that I've noticed when doing an assignment at the very last minute, I am far more focused on it than I ever am when I do it ahead of time.

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That sense of “I absolutely have to get this done, no matter what, right this minute” motivates me, and makes me work much harder than I usually would. All distractions are completely ignored, and I enter an impermeable membrane of concentration. When that sense of desperation is present, it has a profound affect on the student, and will likely make them buckle down and get it done in a more efficient manner than would have been used had the assignment been done two weeks ahead of time.

Another anti-procrastination argument is that the material will not be learned or memorized as well if it is done in such a rushed way. However, I have found that every time I write a 10 page paper the night before it is due, I have no time for tangential research, and I feel I end up learning a lot about the subject in a small span of time.

Even if I could have learned more had I spent more time on it, usually it's only desirable to know a base level of information about any given obscure topic I am assigned to write a paper on. Knowing a little bit about a lot of different things is preferable to me over knowing every detail of one specific little area. The gist of the information is more easily captured when under time pressure, as only the most important things will be researched, learned and included in the assignment. Effectively ridding the paper of trivial information that often distracts from the main point.

Some say that procrastination leads to being disappointed in yourself and your work, and yet, every time I finish a paper in the nick of time, I feel so satisfied and proud that I pulled it off — it functions as a strange kind of academic confidence boost for me — and it never fails to be effective.

We procrastinators must unite, and prove to the rest of the population that our work turns out just as good, if not better, than their meticulously planned out assignments done weeks ahead of time. While I have immense respect for the students disciplined enough to be proactive with their academics, that style is just not for me.

It's no lie that all of my best work has been produced under immense time pressure, and while procrastination is surely not the best way to go through college for everyone, neither is being proactive. To each their own, so whether you write your papers three weeks ahead of time, or three hours ahead of time, don’t let anyone tell you that either method is better.


Follow Talya Jaffe on Twitter.



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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (10/22)
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Total (8/2)
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Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated October 22, 2021