On the Glorification of Procrastination

Hello, everyone! My name is Amira and I’m a serial procrastinator!

Sounds familiar, right? About every second person in my friend circles, including me until recently, is ready to define themselves as a procrastinator and we love boasting how we are sustained on coffee and virtually nothing more. We would also pride ourselves on being creative genuineness, managing big projects under even bigger pressure, always working ourselves to death to catch up on deadlines, because we left everything for the last possible minute. Sleep is for the week, we would say, flipping between Netflix shows for a fourth hour in a row.

Why do we do this to ourselves, to our projects and work? Well, procrastination has become a catch phrase that features heavily on 9gag posts, buzfeed listicles, and social media (synonyms of black holes where time has no relative meaning themselves). They are usually funny, smart and above all - relatable. Who of us hasn’t made themselves a nice cup of coffee with the best intention to finish that excel sheet on the quarterly sales, or to edit the outline of their essay on the R2P, only to find themselves 4 hours later looking at pictures of otters or engaging in an online discussion about the alternative timelines in ‘Community’?

Of course, life is not always about work , but I think we should consider it dangerous when we seek only the play and especially when we turn a problem into a consciously sought after lifestyle. I realise that my problem as a procrastinator is that I seek immediate gratification, a condition that modernity itself is programming me to crave. I am susceptible to distractions, I love to stay informed even on things no one needs me to be informed, and I cherish my ‘free time’ on a level bordering with religiosity. Couple this with the perception of my self as a fairly intelligent and resourceful person, who can manage every situation thrown at them, et voilà — you have a procrastinator in the flesh.

Probably you would say there’s nothing bad with what I just described — who doesn't think of themselves in these terms? And here is where the glorification part comes in. There are numerous articles and questionable studies declaring that procrastinators are the future managers and CEOs, those who are sleep deprived are the creative and entrepreneurial backbones of society and generally these are the people who don’t need to improve anything in their life or work — they already have it figured out.

I don’t know about you, but I have realised there is another side to the procrastination story that is rarely told because it is far uglier and less glorious. It is the story of the sleepless nights and missed opportunities, of the nervous rushing and the obvious mistakes, of guilt tripping yourself and canceling on plans, of forgotten details, of the agonizing knowledge that you could have done it better only if you had more time. But be honest, in most cases you had more time and chose to do something else with it. This is the story that doesn’t get to be shared with all the gifs and memes, but it’s the story you know very intimately because it haunts every one of your projects.

I don’t mean this to be some kind of moralizing lecture. I just think our generation suffers from an easily identifiable fault — inability to balance time and cravings — we want everything at the same time, as soon as possible. And I think that may cause us problems in the long run. Of course, we are training robots to do most of our jobs, but how long will it take until we become useless consumers with no real abilities to work and create?

So if you have a resolution for this, turn off the distractions and work for an hour or two and I hope you would be able to find this activity rewarding.

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