Never Put Off This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Proverbs decorate a range of daily calendars, motivational posters and fortune cookie slips. My favorite is "Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today." This urges procrastinators to get with the program and do projects earlier than the night before they're due. Procrastinators usually begin at an early age when their parents tell them to put away their toys or brush their teeth before bed. "I'll do it during the commercials" and "I'll wash the dishes after I read this magazine" are common young procrastinator responses. For me, however, it took longer to set in. I was in seventh grade when I had this moment of self-discovery.

I've never liked projects, homework and such. Who does? As a child, my parents were constantly asking me, "Don't you need to do your homework" or "I think you have something you need to do." I never really had a chance to put things off because they were always on my case. As I grew older, they began to trust me to get my homework done. Instead of asking if I had something to do every 15 minutes, they slowed to every 20 minutes. As they backed off, I guess my motivation did too. I never noticed I was a procrastinator because I didn't put off my work for very long, maybe an hour or two.

By seventh grade, this steady downward spiral caught up with me with the introduction of the History Fair. It was the epitome of all the monotonous, tedious projects I've ever had to do. At first, I thought, Well, I've got to do it, so let's get it done. It didn't take long for that to become, Well, I've got till next Friday, so what's another hour. That hour quickly turned into another day.

My parents, wonderful people that they are, saw this and tried to turn me from the dark side. They slowed my descent, but ultimately could not keep me from my destiny. I still didn't understand that putting things off was the exact definition of procrastination, even though it was blatantly obvious. After a while, they gave up and basically said, "It's your project. Do it when you feel like it." Yes! Finally they'll leave me alone. This is what I've been waiting for, I thought. Two days later, I was in a complete free fall. I kept putting everything off. I was addicted. "Why do today what you can do tomorrow" became my motto. Assignments were due that I'd barely begun.

I'm still not completely sure how I got it all done. Maybe it was my understanding that the last minute was made so things could get done before the due date. It was on that day that I realized my problem. I, yes, I, Jason Patrick Holmes, was a procrastinator.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Others were procrastinators, but not me. I thought, It'll never happen to me. Boy, was I wrong. I sat down and asked myself how this had happened. I began to retrace my steps. My gosh, I realized, how could I have not seen this before? At that moment I made up my mind: never again would I let this happen. Rushing about is completely unnecessary. Why am I putting myself through torture? I could have done it earlier and I would have had all this time left over.

I concluded that once you've fallen this far into the bottomless abyss, it's hard to get yourself out. However, I tried and I toiled; I fought and I struggled. And here I am, at 11: 30 Thursday night, writing this essay. I'd like to warn all young potential procrastinators, don't be like me. Don't let yourself fall into the abyss of procrastination. The extraneous stress and lack of sleep can be easily eliminated if projects get done a little at a time.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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