Thursday, February 12, 2009

Embracing Procrastination

I am a procrastinator. And I have learned how to embrace it. Since I know that I work best under deadlines, I had to learn how to plan and estimate time to completion.

I started to get really good when I was writing 10 page papers in college. I would start planning and gathering my materials once the paper was assigned. Then, the evening before the paper was due, I would begin to type. I would be incredibly focused and punch out an 8-10 page paper in several hours. I'd take a break, then proof it, print it off (praying that the print gods wouldn't mock me) and be done. I had it down to a science.

Creative writing is a different thing all together. One, I don't have any deadlines. I do try to impose deadlines, but that doesn't usually work. My boss is a pushover and agrees to all the delays. Plus, a formal paper is a whole different sytle of writing than the snark required for Bo Fexler stories. Occaisionally, I fall out of snark and then Bo's stories are missing that fun flavor. They become just like any other detective story-- just the facts ma'am.

But writing can be a nice way to procrastinate on other things. This works well with grading or if I don't know how to write the guidelines for a new assignment that will both explain what I want and not be too confusing or lengthy. A tough balance since I do ask a lot of my students.

Many times procrastination is regarded as a bad thing. We should all, apparently, strive to start any task the moment we get it and thus get it out of the way. My biggest problem with that is that the first idea I have is often not the best. Every single time I started something with the first idea, I came up with several better ideas. The last idea was always the best. I continue to mull over something until I come up with the best idea. There's got to be a better way.

Procrastination doesn't have to be a bad thing. So long as you still meet the deadline, I don't see the difference in starting the project and getting it done or waiting and doing it last. For me, I'll actually spend less time working on the project because the final form is one that I've thought over several times. As opposed to revising the first project several times with each newer, better idea.

Though, procrastinators who don't meet deadlines have failed. If you can't meet the deadline, you've procrastinated too far. It's like running up to a cliff edge. If you stop just in time-- it's good (and looks cool to watchers). If you stumble over the edge, that's bad. You have just made a mess on the canyon floor. Don't screw yourself-- or those you're working with.

Learn to guage time and you too can be a successful procrastinator. Now if you'll excuse me, I have something I don't feel like doing. =)

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