Procrastination. Teachers advise against it, parents yell at us for it, overachievers scoff at the thought of it. Well, to all of the naysayers out there, I declare, I love to procrastinate. It’s where I get my most creative ideas.
Let me explain how I got to this point, where I chose to write an op-ed on writing an op-ed an hour before the op-ed is due.
It’s the first of the month, and my teacher assigns me an essay due on the twenty-second. No biggie. I’ve got loads of time.
On the fourteenth, my teacher tells the class that we can start setting up conferences with him to make sure our essays are on the right track. I haven’t even chosen a topic for my essay yet, let alone started it.
It’s the twenty-first, the night before the essay is due, and what am I doing? Not working on the essay, that’s for damn sure. Instead, I’ve decided it’s a great time to re-watch an episode of “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix. The show ends. I resolve to be the “good student” my parents think I am and finally get to work on this godforsaken essay. I grab my computer, but wait – there it is, in the corner of my Netflix page: the 20-second countdown until the next episode automatically begins!
I think, Do I really need to start my essay now? I mean, I’ve still got time. It’s only 9 o’clock.
19 … 18 … 17 …
And I already have an A in the class. Who cares if this isn’t my best work? It won’t knock me down that much.
12 … 11 … 10 …
AND, I’ve got to find out whether or not Jane the Virgin is actually going to stay a virgin!
(I know, I’m behind. I’m only on season 1 episode 3.)
5 … 4 … 3 …
Maybe I should start the essay. I’ve already procrastinated this long. Do it for my family, for my teacher, for Jane, make them proud.
2 … 1 …
And right as I am going to close the browser and be a good student, the screen turns white, the Latin narrator starts giving a recap of what happened the episode before, and I once again, enter the realm of “Jane the Virgin.”
At 5 a.m., I finally break out of my Netflix trance. I’m not worried by the fact that I have to start getting ready for school in an hour or so, nor the fact that I have a 50-point essay due first period. Nay. Procrastination is the root of my creativity. In fact, Jihae Shin, a professor from the University of Wisconsin, conducted a study on procrastination at two companies and found that staff members who procrastinate are seen as more creative and innovative by their bosses. Not only that, some of the greatest moments, here on Earth, are all thanks to my dear ol’ friend, procrastination. According to Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” owe some of their greatness to procrastination. “The greatest speeches in history were re-written at the last minute so that you had a lot of flexibility to improvise while you’re still on stage, as opposed to getting the script set in stone months in advance,” Grant told BBC Radio 4.
Sure, procrastination doesn’t work for everyone. It can lead to turning in sub-par work and unnecessary stress. I get that. But does it really deserve the bad rap it gets? Ashton College released a study stating that procrastinators are often benefited by “better decisions, increased creativity, fewer unnecessary tasks, and increased insight.”
People often disregard procrastination and look past its true beauty. It helps us manage delay and feel a greater sense of happiness and success. However, it becomes a problem if you don’t care about the task or have no intention of providing your best work.
Procrastination isn’t new to me or my peers. After all, out of the 1,300 high school and college students polled by StudyMode, 87 percent claimed they procrastinate on school work. Does it mean that they all do it well? No way. It takes time to perfect, and one must learn how to make it work to their benefit. But if Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. can do it, so can we.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.