I am a self-proclaimed master of procrastination. Once, during my sophomore year of high school, I whipped out a nine-and-a-half page paper on biodiversity within the last forty-eight hours of it being due… even though we’d been given close to three months to complete the assignment. Personally, I do my best work under pressure, which is probably why I managed to snag a B on that biodiversity assignment, even though I put it off until the very last minute. Since my personal procrastination plan has proved successful for me, I’ve decided to lay it out in the hopes that others can benefit from it just as much as I have. And so, without further ado, here are the most important pieces of procrastination pie:
1. Surround yourself with an abundance of electronics. Channel your inner sports-fanatic, because there’s bound to be some type of game or match being broadcasted, no matter what day of the week it is. Become a social media guru—there’s no time like the present to attempt to hit the hourly tweet limit or build your LinkedIn profile or cleanse your Facebook page of all those embarrassing pages you “liked” back in middle school. Take some time to catch up with old high school friends you’re no longer in touch with or give your grandparents a call (and hey, maybe if you hint enough at how broke college has left you, they’ll even ship a care package your way).
The most important thing to remember regarding your electronics is that, no matter how tempting it may be, you must refrain from using them to work on your assignment. To do so would completely wreck all of your efforts to perfect your own procrastination skills.
2. Become hyperaware of your surroundings and yourself. Take a look around and notice everything that isn’t in perfect order. If you see that a poster is hung at an odd angle, you should take no less than five minutes to readjust it. And while you’re up, you might as well rearrange all of the furniture in the room. Don’t forget about your closet, either; it’s a well-known fact that the best time to sort through every article of clothing you own is while you’re avoiding an essay.
Once all reorganization options have been exhausted, it’s important to focus on yourself and the various noises around you. Are you too cold? Too warm? Hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Determining that your level of comfort is not up to par will provide you with plenty of complaints to address. Be just as attentive in listening to what’s going on around you. Zero in on the sweet hum of every police siren within a mile’s radius. Eavesdrop on the argument going on down the hall. Pinpoint from which sink that annoying dripping noise originates. The more noises you can locate, the less time you’ll spend thinking about your essay.
3. Create itemized lists. Don’t let all those Post-It notes you bought at the beginning of the semester go to waste! Create daily, weekly, and even monthly to-do lists. Be sure to put them in order of importance; just because you’re procrastinating, there’s no reason you shouldn’t work on improving your time management skills… in theory, that is. Check the fridge and survey your snack drawer, and write down everything you need to pick up next time you hit up Wal-Mart. Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye, so making up your wish list is also a must. Lists such as these are highly efficient in keeping your mind off of that assignment you’ve worked so hard to avoid.
By following these three steps, procrastination should be relatively easy. However, even the most dedicated procrastinator slips up sometimes (drinking coffee might give you a surge of motivation to get started on your paper a whole week before it’s due, so maybe you should avoid caffeine, too). If you’re unfortunate enough to be persuaded by your conscience to get a head start on that assignment, don’t give up hope! You’ll undoubtedly have yet another big paper assigned to you in a week or two, and at that time, you can renew your efforts at successful procrastination with some extra experience under your belt. Before long, procrastination will come to you as if it’s second nature.
This article was originally published in The Independent Collegian on February 18, 2015.