We all share a procrastination problem. Maybe not all of us, but most of us. Recently, I noticed something about the way I would procrastinate and what was actually the result of it.
When people think of procrastination, they think of cramming last minute – which is essentially what it is – but it’s also associated with coming up with a piece of crap because you didn’t have enough time.
This wasn’t the case for me. My procrastinated work was usually my best work, and here’s why.
How I Procrastinate
When I would have an essay due date coming up, I would often be told to break it into parts, give myself time to work, and focus on parts of it one at a time making the workload easier.
I tried this once and to add to it, I observed the people that did this same thing. What I came up with and what I turned in… was not good. The grades of the people that did this, depending on who they were and their style of writing, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
But I started to really realize what was going on. Procrastinating showed me this.
I didn’t understand this until later, that since I was breaking it into pieces, giving myself the space to make the few separated parts of my essay better, I was completely destroying the flow of the essay.
I noticed that because of the separation, I was making the parts well organized, maybe even well written, but they had lost connection to the rest of the essay.
I was in shock because the times when I was motivated and actually looked forward to writing an essay and gave myself lots of time to complete, it’s the essays I dreaded and waited last minute for that got me the best grades.
This was only my theory, so I decided to try it out. And better yet, make the stakes higher.
Less Time To Work = Less Time To Fail
My senior year of high school, I was in English 101. A dual enrollment course giving me some college credits before I actually went off to college. Our infamous “senior paper” was coming up. A paper that would be no less than, if I remember this right, 4000-5000 words.
At the time, this seemed like a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it still is a lot, but something I could conquer now with little to no worry.
Ever since I did the test.
The last few weeks, maybe even few months, our teacher let us use class time to work on our essays.
I sat next to someone who utilized this time to do their research, write out their essay and make something good. But I, was performing the test once again.
I used that work time to do what I found to be the best use of my time. Build up procrastination. And by this, I mean I would take out my phone, play some games, read some posts on Reddit, and check Twitter.
There were other people doing the same thing because, well… we did have quite a lot of time to get the essay done… right?
The time went by, the weeks ended, and the essay was due in two days. Time to start.
I did half the essay in one night, and the other half the next night. This might go against what I said earlier about breaking into parts, but this was an exception because something so long won’t have the same flow from the very start if the point of the essay is to cover multiple points. And without thinking about it, this could be a variable within the test.
We turned our essays in, the guy that sat next to me turned his in very confident, he had checked it many many times, took hours to right out parts of it and make it the best it could be.
We got our grades back a few weeks later. I had gotten a high B, not bad. And surprisingly, the guy next to me got a low C. At the time, I was confused with him and slightly in shock, but it wasn’t anything I didn’t expect.
Whenever I would spend too long on an essay, trying to fluff it up and make it nice, I was really just adding bull to it, trying to sound smart, and I assumed this guy probably did something similar and tainted his own essay trying to better it.
I wasn’t the only one that knew about my theory. I had another friend in the class that I would express this idea too, and he had actually agreed, seeing the same results on previous papers.
I went to talk to him and tell him about my grade that was – in my opinion – pretty well for what I probably should’nt have deserved.
He showed me his grade, an A. I was really impressed, but again I had to test it, and he knew what I was testing. I asked him when he started his essay. His response, “Yesterday”.
At that point I just had a smile because I knew, with more than one subject, this theory played out pretty well and seemed to be more effective than I had hoped.
Ever since then, you could say I am still testing it, but moreover, I’m using this theory. I still procrastinate, but with pride. I haven’t written an essay that’s gotten me below a B (with one exception being a time I didn’t follow the rubric correctly).
This was 2 years ago and I encourage other people to try this. It may not give you the same results, but what I’ve learned is what teachers, professors, and most of all readers, want to see in a piece of writing, is the feeling that they are being talked to.
You don’t pause a conversation and can immediately jump back into it without questioning, “What was I saying?” and starting off track, maybe even restating previous parts of the conversation.
If there’s anything my Dad taught me in writing, it would be two things. Take out the bull and useless fluff, and to write like you are talking to someone.
Don’t Break Up Your Train Of Thought
If that makes sense, but you need a bit of reassurance, here’s what I’ve learned from my so called theory of procrastination.
By procrastinating, I was not only keeping the flow of whatever I was writing, but I was forcing my brain to stay on the train of thought from the beginning.
If I had extra time to pause every once in a while because I got a new Twitter notification, I’d most likely start spending more time on Twitter, checking out new links, and furthering myself from the train of thought I had when I was writing.
Procrastinating and limiting the time I had gave me no other choice, I had to stay on the train and ride it out to the end, no stops and no breaks.
I also learned that if you are in a conversation and someone brings up something whether it be politics or a news story they saw, someone might go off on a rant.
However if you listen, that rant is in an almost essay-like format. They’ll hit all the points they want to get across, give supporting evidence and commentary, and inevitably make a pretty damn good paper out of it.
Readers want a rant. There’s passion in a rant and expressive ideas. By staying on topic and talking (writing) about whatever it might be, the formulation of it shouldn’t be structured in a pieced together format, it should be one solid piece of information.
Hopefully most of this makes sense, and if it does and you are in a position to write, try it yourself. I’m not necessarily encouraging procrastination, I’m discouraging breaking up your work.
Don’t destroy something that would be good by taking it to a peaceful level of “time to continue this piece of information”. Formulate your ideas and prepare to rant.