It’s hard not to procrastinate. Everybody I know procrastinates. I’m writing this article instead of doing pressing work.
But I feel like I am productively procrastinating. Writing this article in lieu of doing actual work doesn’t feel like a waste of time. Productive procrastination feels way better than normal procrastination, because something gets accomplished. At the end of this, I will have a finished article. It’s not the thing that I actually have to do, but it is something. The endorphin rush you get from finishing is still the same.
I’ve found that productive procrastination often takes the form of a creative pursuit. The most telling example is my habit of starting projects during exam season, to distract myself from studying. One year in high school I taught myself how to edit videos so I could record myself doing magic tricks. Other exam periods I’ve gotten really into knitting, or Netflix or graphic design. Studying feels constrictive because you are confined to the material in the course and it’s generally not an exciting process. You are not discovering new ideas or material, you are pounding existing knowledge into your head so you can be confident that you can retrieve it from memory during the examination. This is not an especially fun process. The discovery of solutions is joyful, memorizing potentially helpful patterns is tedious.
Am I sometimes under prepared for exams? Absolutely. There have been countless occasions where I stare at an exam question knowing that I skimmed over that particular section. I had understood that section when I read it, and had deemed it unnecessary to review further. However, here I am now, being asked to apply the concept to a scenario I haven’t considered / read about. At times like these I momentarily regret my study habits and the fact that I didn’t meticulously go over all the notes for hours on end. This has not made me change my ways yet.
A friend of mine once said
We procrastinate because we are confident we can pull this off at the last minute.
Perhaps this confidence is over stated. It will probably come back and bite us in the ass eventually. It hasn’t gone wrong yet though.
If I couldn’t leave things to the last minute: I wouldn’t. I think it’s interesting what I do when I am procrastinating tells me about how I feel about studying. Perhaps I could use this insight to study more, by adding creative elements to my preparation for tests. I have a test in 3 days that I do not feel prepared for yet. Maybe one of my next few articles will deal with the subject matter that I will be tested on, so I can write this and feel like I’m procrastinating with something creative while actually learning something in the process.