The Fine Art of Procrastination

Delta Winds cover 2008Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


The Fine Art of Procrastination

Greg Patchen

A bad habit can be anything from nail biting to serial killing. I like to think that my bad habit is between these two habits. It is worse than nail biting, but nothing compared to serial killing; it is procrastination. I say that we procrastinators are misunderstood. It is true that we wait until the last minute to do anything, but it has worked for a bunch of us. Surprisingly, I get A's on most of my schoolwork. So why give up something that works for me? I can have all the fun I want until the day before my assignment is due, and then on that day I know that it is homework time. After many years of mastering my procrastinating ways, I have become proficient at finishing my homework right before it is due.

The day was Sunday, just like any other Sunday. I had a calculus test the next day along with an English paper and a chemistry quiz. I was not sweating though. I still had about 22 hours before the next school day. That gave me plenty of time to do tons of homework, play a few video games, watch a bunch of TV, see a few friends, and hopefully get a couple hours of sleep. I started off the day by waking up around 10:00 A.M., but stayed in bed until 11:00 A.M. I knew that I had tons of homework to do, but told myself, "I'll do homework right after lunch." I slowly ate my lunch thinking about all the homework I had to do. After my meal, I reluctantly walked to my room to study. I opened up my books, but all I could think about were the football games on TV. "Let me flip through a few stations and see the scores," I thought. I started watching with a bag of Cheetos in my lap and a cup of Mountain Dew in my hand. The next thing I knew I had watched two games, and four and a half hours had gone by. It was now 4:00 P.M., and I had not done any homework.

I knew that it was time to start my homework. I decided to start writing my paper first, so I opened up Microsoft Word. The only problem was that I had no idea what to write about. This is a writer's worst nightmare-the curse of the blank screen. I started out by typing my name, professor's name, class name, date, and page numbers. I spaced it out just right so that I had about half of a page. Then, I said to myself, "Well, I have half of a page; I think that I deserve a study break." I pulled out my X Box, plugged in my controller, loaded my Halo 2 disc, and started killing a bunch of aliens. I was only planning to play video games for about an hour or two, but I was actually on for four hours! It was now 8:00 P.M., no homework was done, and my mom was yelling at me to wash the dishes. I ran to the kitchen, packed the dishwasher, and started it. The whole process took about half an hour. Now, I was determined to start my homework. Procrastination was no longer an option . . . or was it?

I walked to my room, closed the door, unplugged my TV, turned off my computer, turned off my phone, and grabbed my chemistry book. Clearly, I did not want to be distracted. I basically forced myself to study. About 15 minutes later, my mom opened up my door and said that I had a call from the house phone. Reluctantly I grabbed the phone and started talking to my friend. He asked me why my phone was off, so I told him that I needed to study. Instead of letting me study, he told me all about a new update to the online game we play. Intrigued, I turned my computer back on and checked it out. This was a terrible idea for me, especially now. I logged onto the game and again lost track of time. Two more hours flew by, and I was basically nowhere with my homework. Now, I was really determined to study. Even though I had said this before, this time I meant it.

The time was 10:30 P.M. I pulled out my chemistry book and studied like never before. I basically memorized each page before going onto the next. Study breaks were no longer permitted. As soon as I finished studying chemistry at 11:30 P.M., I decided to move on to calculus. I opened up my calculus book, but there was one small problem. I had no idea what I was looking at! I had procrastinated so long that I had not taken the time to ask my teacher for help. Anxiously, I read over each confusing graph, each difficult formula, each long process, and each boring chapter. I repeated this process six times. I tried many practice questions and found out that I had memorized the material so well that I probably could have completed the calculus test in my sleep. It was now about 1:30 A.M. Although I was extremely tired, I still had an English essay to type.

I slowly walked to the kitchen to make coffee, but I had no idea how to make it. Both of my parents were asleep and I was fading fast from exhaustion. I opened up the refrigerator door in search of something with caffeine. Earlier I had left a half full energy drink in the refrigerator in case of an incident such as this. I grabbed the drink and chugged it, which turned out to be a dreadful idea. It usually takes about twenty minutes for an energy drink to pump a person full of energy, so I took a study break and watched TV. Twenty minutes passed, and all of a sudden my whole body started shaking. I had drunk the energy drink too fast, causing me to have too much energy! My hands were shaking so terribly that I couldn't type. This was a predicament: either I could try to type my paper while hitting all of the wrong keys or I could take a study break until I stopped shaking, at which time I would lose all of my energy and risk passing out. I knew that I could not take any more breaks, so I decided to type my paper in my shaky state. This proved to be the biggest struggle of the night.

It was now 2:30 A.M., which still gave me five hours to work before class started. I was shaking like crazy! Every sentence I wrote had to be edited and reedited. My other problem was that I had no idea what to write. I knew what my topic was, but I did not know exactly what the content should be. I basically came up with ideas as I was writing. If it sounded wonderful in my head, then it was put on my paper. Even a few ideas that did not sound so great made it onto my paper. I just wanted the paper finished. As I was finally losing the shakes, I was also losing energy and consciousness fast. I knew that I needed to finish my paper, so whatever popped into my head was written down. As a result, the paper only took me one hour to write, but the editing took forever. In my semi-consciousness, I realized that I had made several dumb mistakes. I scrolled down my paper and edited all of the fragments, run on sentences, misspelled words, punctuation errors, and terrible sentence wordings. After two hours of editing, I was finally finished!

Two and a half hours of sleep later my alarm rang, waking me from my short slumber. I reluctantly woke up and arrived to school. Yes, I was tired, but I was also ready for my test and quiz and to turn in my paper. I smoothly completed my test and quiz and later on proudly turned in my paper. I was confident that I aced everything, so I had no worries. Later on, it turned out that I was right. I aced my quiz, test, and paper. Clearly I had no problem at all procrastinating until the last minute. Years and years of the same routine had truly programmed me into a procrastination machine. I have never had a teacher who could tell if I had done my work the night before or if I had spent weeks working on it.

Everyone has procrastinated at one time or another, but I do not recommend excessive procrastination for everyone. Many people cannot handle the stress of completing their homework at the last minute, so instead they should space out their homework over a period of time. At first I did not like waiting until the last minute to do my homework, but after years and years of practice I have learned to love it. My parents call me the King of Procrastination. Although I might be hurrying like a madman to finish my homework, it eventually gets finished with excellent results. My bad habits have not caught up with me yet, so until they do, procrastination will continue to be a part of my life. Maybe even this paper was written at 3:00 in the morning on the day it was due, but I will never tell.