So, I procrastinated writing this.
Yes, it was frustrating and yes, I was annoyed with myself. Yes, I could have probably gotten it done earlier if I’d spent less time surfing Instagram and watching Youtube.
Maybe if I procrastinated less in general I’d have more time for sleeping and doing yoga and growing my own vegetables and “living my best life”. That’s what productive people do, right?
But alas, I’m a procrastinator. I’m not the worst procrastinator in the world because I really enjoy being productive, and I really try to stay on top of my to-do lists and finish my work before 10 pm. But it just doesn’t happen all (read: most) of the time. I’m a busy person who’s always got a backlog of things to do, so every wasted minute feels like failure. I get annoyed with myself, and I feel like a typical college-student-mess who doesn’t have her life together.
At the same time, I’m tired of feeling bad about things that aren’t worth feeling bad about. Procrastinating your work might be annoying (and it might result in some occasional sleep deprivation) but I know I shouldn’t beat myself up over it. Here are two big reasons why:
Everybody needs some ‘release’ time
When you’re busy (which most of us are, let’s be real), you don’t tend to carve out time in your schedule for relaxation. In fact, most of us probably don’t think about it at all when we plan out our days. If we’re lucky, we can fit some leisurely reading or a nap in between the cracks in our schedules, but usually not for that long. Often, upon finishing a busy day of classes or work and thinking “okay, now I’ve just got to exercise and study and do my laundry” we don’t end up following through.
Instead, the relaxation that we’ve been neglecting blows up in our face. Our inner relaxation barometer is at an all time low, and suddenly we’re on our 3rd hour of Netflix and are spiraling into Instagram-stalking oblivion.
Why do we do this?
Well, because we probably need it.
Here’s the solution: make more of an effort to include little doses of conscious relaxation throughout your day. Find little moments of ‘release’ when you’re not trying to do anything; like taking a bath, or listening to your favorite song as you walk around campus, or writing in your journal while you sit on a bench.
When you’re going-going-going all day, you need a release. And if you don’t give yourself opportunities for relaxation throughout your day, your stress levels will probably force you to take a big dose of it at night. So, let yourself procrastinate in bits if you feel like you need a break. And if you end up procrastinating a bit (or a lot) before starting your homework, just remember that it’s probably because your body needed a break.
Procrastination allows time for creativity
Here’s another great reason why you shouldn’t hate yourself for procrastinating: it helps creativity. To be clear, I’m not talking about the master painter or opera singer type of creativity; I’m talking about the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that people use everyday in all kinds of careers.
There have been studies showing that people who procrastinate a moderate amount tend to be more creative when it comes to new ideas. Here’s a really great TED talk about it.
Basically, because procrastinators take breaks while doing a project (or delay starting it all together), they give themselves more time to mull the project over in their brains. As a result, they often come up with more ideas, and ideas that are increasingly unique. Meanwhile, people who get the project done immediately might be efficient, but might not have as much opportunity for creative thinking.
In summary, your procrastination is not the end of the world. You aren’t a complete mess (even if you sometimes feel like one).
I think young people, particularly women, always feel like they’re more of a mess than they are. There’s this expectation that, no matter how busy we are, we could always do everything better. We could always be more organized and procrastinate less. And while that may be true, and there may always be somebody on Instagram whose life seems more put together than yours, that shouldn’t be your biggest worry.
You’re doing just fine right now– procrastination and all. You’re just as much of a mess as you’re supposed to be, trust me. All you’ve got to do is keep going.