Monday, February 23, 2009

Procrastination is Golden

In high school, I was a big procrastinator. I would wait until the last possible minute to start studying for finals and term papers...let's not even go there. In college I was the same way - and I hate to admit this but a lot of the time it was with articles I would write for the student newspaper. My dad tells me I inherited this from my mother, who was also an editor and extreme procrastinator. 

For the most part, I try not to let my procrastination get the better of me in my professional life. I think the one remark I hear from a lot of my superiors is that I do things quickly. If you ask me to do something, I do it. And I realized recently that's because if I don't do it right away and get it over with, then I will procrastinate until the very last second to get it done (which is no way to be in the working world). 

It's easy to procrastinate when you're working on deadlines. And for a good chunk of my life, deadlines are what I worked on. I was a writer, an editor, a journalist, a student. Homework was due at 10AM on Monday morning, I would sit down and do it at 10PM the night before. Article is due at 6PM on Thursday night, and I would still be racing to get the last quote at 5:30PM. 

Some people would say it is sheer laziness, and I would have to agree with the kind of work I do now. I know that if my boss asks me to fax something and I just don't do it right away...it's because I'm lazy. But I think with writing and editing, you pull the best stuff out of your head when you're under pressure. I think some of the best stuff I've ever written was written quickly and without over-analyzing. And to avoid over analyzation, you have to write at the last possible second. 

The last few weeks at work I have seen procrastination start to pull at me. My boss is going to be out of town next week and the week after, which means I will be unsupervised for two whole weeks. For the most part, my boss leaves me be - I get my work done when I get it done. He is very hands off, which is a complete 180 from what The Boss was like (who would read my to-do list everyday to make sure I was getting stuff done). 

At times, I love the hands off atmosphere. I feel less stressed and more relaxed at work. I don't feel panicked if I'm three minutes late and I don't feel the need to stay late and pull my hair out to be an ultimate perfectionist (which is what was required of me at my past job). 

Sometimes I do wish that I had a boss who was there more to watch me and make me perform better. But I think I realized just this past week as procrastination set in, that being a grown-up is pushing yourself. Not having a teacher at hand, or an editor, or a boss to push you requires you to do it for you. And I think that is the best lesson that my boss could teach me. 

17 comments:

Classy in Philadelphia said...

I totally work better under pressure as well. Like you, I'm a journalist, student, writer, PR student...it's all very deadline intensive. I try to do things early, but I do find that some of my best work is right before deadline.

Blaez said...

i very much dislike hovering bosses. i like the more relaxed bosses that have faith in your ability to govern yourself.

trust me, if i have nothing to do i will ask you if there is anything i can assist with while i wait... i don't need to be harped on every 2 seconds "you busy enough? you busy enough? what are you doing today? are you busy enough?...."

lisa said...

My huge workload in university (a double major, a part-time job, internships, dance club/performance team) meant that I had to be really good with getting things done and taking advantage of every ounce of available time. I think that's cured me of procrastination for the most part, although like you, I can be demotivated when the boss is away and there's nothing urgent that needs to be done. :P

Helen said...

I totally agree. Working under pressure worked for me. Now being a business owner, it's the fear of failure that pressures me.

Cass said...

I too had a boss who went over my to-do lists daily. I got to the point where I would leave that notepad on the middle of my desk so he could go over it before heading home that day. Drove me nuts!

I find that the only time I'm not the procrastinating sort is when I'm working, not really sure why. Housework, school projects etc. always got done last minute. And of course the whole "oh look, shiny!" distraction technique didn't help much. :-)

Nickie. said...

I totally agree, I've been kinda borderline procastonating this week. But my boss is the same as yours, just leaves me be, rather have quality work then quantity!! By Wednesday though, I'm usually back into rhymthm, those damn first 2 days of the week kill me!

Lose That Girl said...

Even a hovering boss can break their pattern when they see that you can hit deadlines continually and without too much supervision. Sometimes they just have to learn that you are capable of working without constant supervision.

MB said...

Hey cuz,

I love the way you think. Also your words tell me alot about your own understanding of yourself. This is the first blog of yours that i hve read, and i do love to read lol.

Matthew

Ellegant said...

I could not agree more. You would think procrastination WAS my job the way I handle things. But you're right - pressure seems to push out my best work.

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Wonderful said...

I agree with your post as well. There's definitely a rush of adrenaline when you have a tight deadline, but I've found that if I don't keep myself busy with work, I will become lazy and it affects more than my work--so I prefer to just snap out of it and get it done. That way I won't have to remember all the things on my "to do" lists.

Bayjb said...

I was not as much a procrastinator during school as I am a little more now. When I have to focus and have to get something done in a short amount of time, the adrenaline does kick in and I can knock it out no problem.

Shoshanah said...

I was the biggest procrastinator back in HS and college. Now at work at least I've got that part figured out. In real life, not so much. Paying bills, getting car insurance, making drs apointments... nothing like waiting untill the last minute with that kind of stuff

Anne said...

i am not a procrastinator but I do like to be busy - when i have nothing to do and no supervision...umm..I blog. like now. i dont have any projects and I have a meeting in an hour so I am blogging. I have no one that I check in with and the minute something lands on my desk I do it and then get back to my very important posting and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Nice job perk...I guess your company is not affected by the recession?

Emily said...

i completely agree. i've always though i work better under pressure (ie 4 hours before my 13 page essay is due.) i find that then i don't censor myself and just write in a stream of conscious manner which is usually my best thoughts anyways.

Lindsay said...

I definitely work well under a tight deadline, but I've gotten better about procrastinating over the years. My freshman year of college I left everything to the last minute and hated myself for it. By now, in my last semester, I'm ahead on my work. Of course I have fewer classes and more motivation to go out and have a good time before entering the real world now, but I learned my lesson. There are times, however, when I still thrive under the pressure of a close deadline. I think it's the journalist in me too.

Madeline said...

Ugh, I totally know what you mean. My procrastination comes in waves. One day I'll be doing my projects fast and I will be the first one done for the day. Other days, I watch the clock tick even though I know I have a deadline to beat. I blame the weather.