The Paw Print

I’ll Make the Title Later

Andy Song, Timothy Kang, Web Editor, Staff Writer

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It’s a familiar experience for most. You come home, exhausted from a day of school, and you promise to give yourself an hour-long break. Next thing you know, you find yourself at 10 pm watching a compilation video titled “Vines that keep me awake at night,” finally realizing that you didn’t do your homework. In a mixture of despair and tiredness, you tell yourself you’ll just finish the work tomorrow, resume your video, and fall asleep. The next day, you repeat the cycle, except with the homework being due the next day. So, you either stay up late slogging your way through assignments, or choose to do it all at school tomorrow with some “help” from your friends. Alas, you have encountered the nearly universal phenomena we refer to as procrastination.

To some, it’s a rare occurrence, striking only during the special period known as second semester senior year. For others, it’s become a lifestyle. Despite perpetual advice we were given by parents, teachers and former students who have already faced the consequences, along with our own experiences facing the consequences of putting off work, we still choose to do it.

And that’s okay. Procrastination can be a good thing.

Yes, that sentence just sounded like an oxymoron. But, if you are smart about how you procrastinate, it can benefit you.

How could putting off work possibly help anyone? Our brain acts like a muscle. While powerful, it needs rest, just the same as any part of our body. School is analogous to working out — you study to increase the strength and capacity of your brain, and are in a continuous state of exercise throughout the year. And like muscles that have been worked out, your brain needs rest in order to perform at full capacity. If you continually force your brain to study, it will eventually start to lose strength and functionality from not being able to properly recover, and can start to hinder your work. If you keep dragging an already tried brain through more work, studying, listening and interaction with technology, your brain won’t get to rest. That’s not healthy.

That’s where procrastination comes in. It’s a quintessential time to let your brain do nothing. By doing nothing, you are giving your brain the important rest it needs to function well.

Now, everyone’s brains work differently. Some people function well by breaking intermittently, perhaps taking 10-minute breaks between 40-minute periods of work. Others adopt the work hard play hard mentality, where they work for a long period, and then recover with a long time of break. Regardless, both styles are equally valid and will yield success if done properly.

So, whether you need to spend a whole day lying on your couch with a family-size bag of chips watching a ten-hour marathon of “The Office” for the fifth time, or pause every thirty minutes to watch a snippet of Gordon Ramsay simultaneously roasting other chefs and his own food, think of procrastination as a tool helping you perform more efficiently rather than one slowing you down from doing your work.

Procrastination also leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It could be sleep. It could be trying to learn a piano song in twenty-four hours. Exercise. Adult coloring books.  Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, it should be something that empties your brain, and lets your mind relax.

The key to success is not the ability to work constantly, but the ability to balance work with self-care. College students will often take a day to socialize, hibernate or consume a buffet’s worth of food in order to get through the stress of the rest of the week. Most, if not all successful people incorporate some form of an enjoyable activity into their daily routine in order to be able to find success during work.

And that’s what good procrastination should amount to. Self-care. Time to take pressure off, to release burdens, and to put your mind in an optimal state to work so that instead of struggling through assignments and tests with an exhausted, overworked brain. Good procrastination will allow you to get work done more efficiently and enjoyably.

Good procrastination also comes from an inherent understanding of how you work best, and how you manage your time. If you are able to determine a reasonable estimate for how much time something will take you, you can reasonably make time to recharge. If you know that you can complete a set of homework in a few hours, then it might not hurt to take a day off to pursue another passion, catch up on sleep, or relax your body in order to avoid physical or mental problems that could stem from overwork. But, if you have the motherload of all projects that asks for a hefty chunk of time to complete, and you are busy the next day, it’s probably not best to do nothing that day. Good procrastinators have an understanding of the ideal times to procrastinate, and for how long they can. Bad procrastination amounts to a pure waste of time, while good procrastination is a use of time to allow your brain to perform optimally.

So, this article is not advocating for you to always put off your work last minute and never get things done right away. Rather, procrastination, when used correctly, can allow you to complete work more efficiently, improve your state of health and provide deeper understanding into how you and your brain works best. As long as it’s not everyday, take that nap, finish that last episode or take a break to do what you enjoy most. Ironic as it may be, it will help you in the long run.

Procrastinate responsibly, Cats.

 

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