Sunday, May 15, 2011

If it weren't for the last minute, I wouldn't get anything done...

Current mood: Dreary (my moods frequently reflect the weather.. me and mother nature need to have a talk)
Current song: Across the Universe - Let It Be

Diet update:
I've officially lost 6 pounds! That seems small, I know. But the most I have ever weighed, I reached a couple weeks ago, at 115. Coming from someone who used to weight less than 100 just a couple years ago, this mortified me and really pushed me to do this diet. But I'm happy to report, I'm at 109 right now. My goal is to stay below 105, so just 4 more pounds to go! And I've decided that after my surgery and physical therapy are done, I'm going to really become an active gym goer. Not to keep losing weight, but to just stay in shape and keep my heart healthy.

Surgery update:
Two days... *tiny freakout* I'm really nervous now.. but also excited. I think I'm more excited that tuesday is Glee, moreso than tuesday is my surgery. But hey, at least looking forward to Glee keeps my mind from freaking out more. I'm going out to get a celebratory milkshake with my boyfriend tomorrow to further calm my nerves, before completing the oh-so-fun MRSA preparation, and going to bed nice and early. I have to call Lutheran between 3 and 5pm tomorrow to get my final surgery time, though I know it will be sometime in the morning, anywhere between 7am and 10am. I reeeally hope it's not 7am, seeing as I was instructed to come in two and a half hours beforehand. But hey, hopefully if I'm half asleep, getting the iv in will be a piece of cake!

So anyway, onto today's post. Can anyone tell what it's about? Why yes, procrastination. You are a smart one. Today is May 15th, the final day to submit the FAFSA form for next semester, and guess who just completed hers this afternoon? Granted, I knew that I could only get half of it done until Case re-enrolls me this summer, but that's not really why I put it off. I honestly can't give a better reason other than I am addicted to procrastination.

This has been going on for as long as I remember. I have memories of 7th grade math, where the teacher would only collect the week's homework on fridays. But instead of doing it every night to spread out the work, guess who was cramming on thursday nights to get it all done. Then again, I'm pretty sure the whole class was. And from gradeschool through college, that is all you ever hear students talking about. From homework, to papers, to exam studying... everyone seems to put it off until the last minute. Some people are just too busy with work or other classes, others would just rather goof off than do the work at that minute. I honestly feel I work better under pressure. I've written papers a week ahead of time and gotten B's and C's on them, but almost all my last minute papers are A work. Why is that? Because at the last minute I know it's do or die time, and I go into it guns blazing, whereas when I know I have extra time to get it done, I'm not as focused while I'm writing it? I really can't say. I'm a fast paper writer, so putting them off has almost never had a consequence for me (unless it pushes past midnight, which is my homework cutoff time.. I have never pulled an all-nighter and never plan to), but it's still not a good habit to follow. And yet I, and millions of others, do it.

But it's not just school. Take this FAFSA for instance. It literally took me about 10 minutes to fill out, *including* Case's financial aid forms. I procrastinated for 4 months (I'm pretty sure you can first start filing in January), for TEN minutes out of my day. It's ludicrous to think about. Most of that time I just completely forgot about it (who thinks about the next semester when you're just starting a new one), so I've always waited till spring to file it, but rarely to *the* last day. I know many people who do this with everyday life things as well; job projects, household chores, yard work, grocery shopping and errand runs... anything that we file into the "I should get this done" part of our brain, seems to also fall under the "well, it can wait till tomorrow" wiring as well.

I've always wondered about the psychology of procrastination. Of why it seems so human nature nowadays, and how that compares to the habits of people in past generations. There are hundreds of quotes about procrastination, from past and present.. so what is it about us? I think it was on some movie I saw a few years ago that they explained how women (it was a movie all about relationships and gender roles) will put off paying their bills and getting things done till the last minute because they love the drama. Despite the sexist subtext, maybe there is something to that, for all people.

When you complete a "to-do" task weeks before it's due, sure you get the benefit of knowing it's out of the way early, but does the completion of the task bring you as much satisfaction as if you were to wait until the last minute? I've been stewing over getting this FAFSA done for weeks now, saying "okay, I'll do it tomorrow.. oh, well, I have a few more days.. man, I really should get that done soon... uh oh, last day, I may be in trouble.... nope! not in trouble, got it done just in time!" And now I'm feeling great about myself for finally completing that which was sitting in the back of my mind for weeks. Perhaps it's the sense of accomplishment we crave. Washing a whole sink of dishes feels more accomplishing than just one meal at a time. Getting your car cleaned only after it's completely filthy feels better than washing it weekly to just get the small bit of dirt off. Buying a whole cart of groceries is more of a feat than just picking up some milk and eggs. No one is going to praise us for buying groceries, so we praise ourselves by saying "wow, I really needed this stuff, I'm so glad I went out to get it finally."

The same concept can be taken back to my 7th grade math class. Sure, the other 3 days of the week you didn't really accomplish anything, but you worked really hard on that 4th day and got everything done on time.. and that feels great.

Whatever the true reasons, the concept of procrastination is an interesting thing. "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow." "Hard work pays off after time, but laziness pays off right now." "Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week." "Someday is not a day of the week." Quotes from every time, every culture, that reflect on just how much people love and are hard wired to procrastinate. So much so that they offer self-help classes and books just to re-wire the brain and try to break the habit. I am certainly in need of some brain re-wiring myself, though I'm sure over time it will get better. And if not, I may join one of those classes... someday.

Well anyhoo, this may be my last post for a while. You probably won't hear from me until I get home on wednesday, and possibly longer than that if I'm having too much fun in vicodinland. Boy will that be a fun post... Well, wish me luck, internet world!

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