August 5, 2007

Lesson 10: Procrastinate

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I am a master procrastinator, a duke of the study rebuke, the father of “why bother?” Not to mention a king of the linguistic string. It is with that expertise that I am speaking to you today. If you doubt my credentials, I ask you only to look at the opening I just used. It took me way too long to write that. I really wanted to slip “prince” in there so I had a nice progression, but I couldn’t come up with anything good. I came up with a few things for queen… but I’m rambling. The point is that I procrastinate.

Procrastination has been good to me. I feel like I work best in high stress, short term bursts. People who decide to start things well before they’re due and finish early never know how long something is actually going to take them. They’re less focused in their work. People like me, who actively put off work until the last possible minute, know exactly how long something will take them. Further, we know how long it takes to do things well. When we have less time than that available, we know how long it takes to do things “good enough.” When we have less time than that, we call up our friends and ask if an assignment is dropped. When they say, “no,” we half-ass it and turn it in an hour or two late.

When I procrastinate well, it actually makes me work better. I am focused, driven, and do my work quickly, while learning a great deal. When I procrastinate poorly, I waste obscene amounts of time and am forced to write down god-knows-what in hopes that I may receive partial credit. You take the good with the bad.

There are some key things to remember when procrastinating though. The most important thing is to know your deadline. I’ve definitely been asked “are you ready for the test tonight?” only to realize at that moment that I had a test that night. Luckily, my years of experience in the procrastinational arts meant I was more than prepared to cram all of the knowledge I needed in by that night. On the other end of the scale, I have rushed to complete an assignment that wasn’t due for another three days. Another key to procrastination is to know your own personal limits. Procrastination is all about how you feel. If I can do an assignment in two hours, starting it four hours before it’s due barely constitutes procrastination. If you know you’re going to finish on time, it isn’t really procrastination.

So, by this time, I’m going to assume that you want to learn how to procrastinate like me. It’s not easy. It’s not real procrastination if you substitute one kind of work in for another. You’re still being productive and being productive is counter-productive. Follow that? To truly procrastinate, the time has to be wasted. I have several ways of doing this. Television and/or movies are a great place to start. Before you know it, hours are lost that you’ll never get back. Facebook is another great tool in any procrastinator’s repertoire. Like television, Facebook is popular enough that I’ll assume you know what to do with it from there. Now things start getting interesting. If you don’t already, I suggest that you start reading numerous blogs. I personally like to surf around AOL’s Weblogs Inc., which is a network that hosts a ton of different blogs on different topics. Similar to that is the network of blogs. Then there are social bookmarking sites. These sites don’t create much original content of their own, but they link to other sites and allow people to rank and comment on the links. Some popular ones are Fark, Digg, Reddit and Netscape. Finally, we have my favorite new way to procrastinate which is Twitter. Twitter is microblogging. Each post is a mere 140 characters aimed at answering the question, what are you doing right now? You add people (called “following”) and can read their updates. It’s a little creepy but terribly addicting.

If you’ve done all of the stuff on the list above, chances are you missed your deadline. Mission accomplished. If you have other ideas for procrastination, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.