I procrastinate. Help me not procrastinate.

What do you do when you have been procrastinating, have a deadline to meet, and completely and totally lack motivation to do anything at all? I’m in law school, and I have a very heavy workload. I have several things I need to do, one by tomorrow. I have been putting them off all week. I have two assignments to turn in that absolutely need to be finished tonight, because I have reading to do in the morning that needs to be done before class.

I have been sitting in front of my computer procrastinating since I woke up this morning. The assignments are easy and I’m not worried about doing them poorly; this is not a perfectionism thing. I am just tired and burnt out, I have too much work overall, and I just don’t care anymore so I’m just not doing it. How can I get through tonight, and how can I prevent this from happening in the future? It’s causing me so much anxiety and I’m finding school to be a miserable experience.  I can’t figure out how to get my damn work done.
As a lifelong procrastinator, I feel for you. I remember one afternoon when I was in grad school, screaming at my husband to get his ass to Staples as fast as his legs could carry him because I had to be on the subway in exactly twenty minutes, and I was out of printer toner, and I had a 40-page paper to print that I was still proofreading but that I absolutely could not turn in late or my life would be over. It’s really a terrible feeling, isn’t it? The worst part of procrastination is the self-loathing, and that nasty person who lives in your brain telling you, “I TOLD you to do your reading for school instead of reading all those articles about whether or not Snooki is pregnant. What’s WRONG with you?”

So here are two plans for you. The first…

Step 1: Go get some candy. Swedish Fish, Whoppers, those candy corn pumpkins if it’s fall, Cadbury Mini Eggs if it’s spring, circus peanuts if you’re desperate or weird. Make sure you stand in the candy aisle of Rite Aid for 45 minutes trying to figure out which kind you’re in the mood for, and then buy all of them, plus some pretzel M&Ms.

Step 2: Caffeine. Diet Coke, or a Starbucks venti with three shots of espresso in it. If you go this route, make excessive small talk with the barista before you order, and then make friends with the other people waiting for their drinks, and then chit-chat a little longer with that guy with the dreadlocks who always sits on the stool closest to the door and plays air drums.

Step 3: Panic. Realize that you don’t have an essential piece of equipment, literature, or that information packet you were supposed to pick up in your advisor’s office. Freak out and call everyone in your class to see if someone can help you out, and then drive to Topeka to pick it up from the kind soul who’s willing to lend you her book because she did her work days ago like a normal person.

Step 4: Cry. Sit at your desk with your head in your hands, listen to “Ghost” by the Indigo Girls and tell yourself, “Yes, it’s true, there’s NOT enough room in this world for my pain!” and then cry some more.

Step 5: Start counting your hours of work vs. hours to sleep ratio, and see it slowly start to turn in the direction of more work than sleep. Pick up your notes and turn on your computer.

Step 6: Do your work.

Here’s another plan:

1. Get off the damn internet.

2. Do your work.

3. When you’re done, go out for a good dinner with people who make you laugh, have a few drinks, and let yourself sleep in the next day. This will go a long way toward recharging your battery for next week, when you will inevitably do the same thing.

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