Last minute heroicsSat, 15th Mar '14, 1:05 am::

I don't remember a single instance in my academic life when I finished my homework well in advance of the due date. Yet surprisingly, I can't recall being late for any assignment unless I had a serious excuse. For as long as I can remember, I have always scheduled my homework to be completed just moments before it was due. Or in other words, I have always waited until the last possible moment to get started. You might think that this negative personality trait is sooner or later going to get me into serious trouble. I'm not cocky enough to deny that possibility but due to the reasons I list below, I highly doubt it.

While the disciplined students and obedient employees were working on their big projects months in advance, pacing themselves cautiously, providing adequate buffer zones in case of problems, I was learning how to improvise at the last minute, regardless of the subject matter at hand. While they were trying their very best, I was unknowingly learning how to ration the resources I had (time and energy) while delivering my desired quality of work. On the surface, this makes me look like someone who does just enough to get by but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only have I always aimed for the best results, I have forever challenged myself to be more ambitious. It is that innate desire to do more things juxtaposed with my inherent laziness to do no more things that has fine tuned my ability to "just wing it".

I am not writing all of this to show off my improvisational skills but rather to encourage the last minute heroes to continue procrastinating tasks as long as they do not miss the deadlines. I spent my school and college years participating in many different activities and programs simultaneously, waiting to do everything until just before the cutoff time. The amount of self-inflicted guilt I bore for not being more disciplined was demoralizing and unjust, especially since the results of my efforts were almost always top quality. I made myself feel bad for not following the path I was told was "right", even though I was surrounded by disciplined students who took weeks to write their essays and ended up receiving lower grades than the papers I wrote in the final two hours.

It was not until I joined the workforce over a decade ago that I realized that my lifetime of last minute heroics had prepared me to excel in the face of impossible deadlines. In school, you get four months to do your research, collaborate with your classmates, and design your presentation. In real life, you get pulled from an already-delayed project you're working on, to take over an urgent do-or-die assignment that you know is a bad idea in the first place. Given that situation, would you rather be the disciplined student who needs a four month plan to accomplish anything substantial or the champion of procrastination who has been living on the edge all their life?

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