Procrastination cycle proves inescapable


Art by Paige Martin

Jilly Dos Santos

Art by Paige Martin
Art by Paige Martin
I have a biology test Tuesday that I haven’t studied for. I need to read eight chapters in The Good Earth, and I’ve got four pages down. Also there’s that half-finished Spanish worksheet due Wednesday crammed in a folder somewhere, but I’ll find it later. Then comes my closest looming deadline: this commentary. I’ve got to get this written by midnight, which is about three hours away. This all wasn’t sprung on me last minute by sadistic, co-conspiring teachers, although I could use that as a great excuse for all my NHI’s. Instead, there’s a more believable cause.

I am a procrastinator. I like to take it slow, mulling over a project or paper for hours or days before acting. Countless excel spreadsheets outline detailed study plans that will ultimately be ignored for more rushed, spontaneous work. In fact, in writing the first two sentences of this paragraph, I checked Facebook and Twitter three times each. You know, just in case something happened.

This works out for me at a cost. My sleep patterns, if you can call them that, are somewhat inconsistent. Depending what is due immediately the next day, I either go to bed by 8:30 p.m. or not at all. When the former happens you’d presume I’d be well rested—and you’d be wrong.

When I sleep from 8:30 p.m. until 6:30 a.m., I find myself waking up several times during the night, and eventually, when I see the clock read 4:00 a.m., I lie in bed and stare out the window until it’s a respectable hour. By morning I feel more tired than if I had slept a measly six hours. The effects of no sleep are obvious. When I pull an all-nighter I’m a caffeinated mess until the second I hit my pillow the next night and sleep through my alarm the following morning.

There are mornings where I drift through class, barely hearing instruction as I finish up work I have failed to finish before I dozed off. Afternoon clubs I enjoy, but dread because they set me one more hour back from getting to my bed. The worst thing though, is when I can’t get up. There have been mornings when, having just gotten an hour of sleep, I wake up twenty minutes before I’m supposed to leave and lie in bed, stunned. It’s late. I’ve slept in. I stayed up too damn late working because I can’t buckle down in the day and get things done. I didn’t even get it all done. It’ll hurt my grade, I’ll look like a mess I – I should stay home and work.

And so I do. And I do not. I stay in bed, melancholic over my work ethic, not motivated to do anything but beat myself up let alone go through with the plan to do homework. Thankfully this has only happened during extreme times of stress; long hours at work coupled with PMS and a school planner full of assignments do a number on your nerves.

So it’s a strange thing, procrastination. It’s like an addiction in a sense – not that I cannot control my “procrastination urges” or have withdrawls when I am timely in my work ethic, but rather that I rationalize my behavior. Just as the cigarette smoker says he can quit anytime, nothing’s wrong, I treat my relaxed attitude towards work and late nights as a simple choice. The second I get home, I assure myself, I will get to my room and start working on French. Of course, in the language of underachievers, “the second I get home” can sometimes be translated as, “whenever I’m done screwing around on the internet.”

And the thing is, I’m not entirely certain that I’m going to change my ways anytime soon. I hope that I will one day. At the same time, though, I don’t know it’s realistic for me proclaim that right now, here in front of what I’m sure are millions of readers, I will reform my sleepless, slow-paced nights.

I’ve got a lot going on in my life, whether it be organizing an interscholastic organization or playing a little tennis, I prioritize. As the busy, aspiring wonder woman some think I am, the down time I have after school to think and plan and laze about is more important than my sleep. I know I’m wrong though. I know that when the morning comes I’ll be late to class, cursing late night projects and the behavior that put me in the position.

But if we do not necessarily act wisely in our decisions, at least we can recognize the pitfalls and be content in these choices. My erratic sleep cycle may damage me in a way I can’t predict now, but I’d rather make my own mistakes than have a bed time.

After all, I extended this deadline to four days later and I am happily, sleepily okay with that.

By Jilly Dos Santos