If there was a single piece of advice I could give to any high school student or college student looking to take the next step of their education or career, this would be it: When I was in my senior year in high school eight years ago, I heard this quote from my senior IB/AP English teacher…
Procrastination is like masturbation. In the end, all you end up doing is ****ing yourself.
Pretty sure you can guess what the censored word is, but in his “wise” words, it’s about as accurate, livid, and clear as you can get in terms of what procrastination does for you. As I’m typing up this post, I have to admit, I did procrastinate on one of my assignments/projects for this week. Now I’m attempting to complete the last pieces of my grammar to make it process conjunctions semantically (if you don’t understand what I just wrote here, don’t worry). But the fact that I’m up at 5am in the morning just shows that it’s definitely bad, especially since this is a graduate course and not an undergrad one.
The more that I think about it, I’m kind of sad that I did it so much during high school and my undergrad career. Rather than just getting it done as soon as I could, I waited until the last minute and turned in something that was relatively sub-par. Granted, some of the grades on those assignments came out great, it was like flipping a coin. One week it might work, the next moment, you’re looking at the requirements for the assignment and thinking, “Why did I wait until the last minute?” You can try to think of excuses to why to hold it off until the last minute, but why? What’s the point? What good does it do for you to wait until the last minute to actually do something? Unless you’re absolutely booked with work, there probably isn’t… The excuses you make up to hold off on the assignment only hurt you in the end (in a sense).
Grad school has gotten me out of that mentality. I started doing assignments as soon as I could and as a result, I found a lot more free time… When it came time to turn in the assignment, I didn’t have to worry about something going wrong in the last minute because I had already caught the problem several days beforehand. And in the process, I could help out classmates with their bugs or algorithm analysis, which in turn, enhanced and reinforced my own understanding of the material and knowledge… That and the fact that I could now go out to dinner with friends or the girlfriend, go sub for some soccer team on the weeknights, or just chill. There were so many more pros of just doing the assignment as soon as I got it rather than just waiting a couple of nights before to do it.
But if you really just want to save yourself the trouble in the long run, don’t procrastinate. I dare you to just try it for a week. Try doing assignments, readings, or anything else as soon as you get them and see how much free time you have to hang out with people or do whatever you’ll want. You’ll notice how much more relaxed and good life is without the stress of meeting that deadline at the eleventh hour.
And when you think about it, in terms of doing work, it’s all about the quality of the work you do. There’s a Bible verse I constantly remind myself as I do my assignments or to drive myself as I get through my master’s program:
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Col 3:23-24)
All the work I’m putting forth is for the sake of God’s kingdom. And with that in mind, I want to do quality work. If I save it to the last minute, it won’t be. It’ll just be crappy, inefficient, and poor. Imagine turning in this work to God and having Him grade it. I’m working towards a higher standard than that of my TA’s or instructor’s, that being God’s standard. And by working as though for the Lord, your reward(s) will be greater than just that grade that you get on that assignment, in the (short and) long term.
So take heed to the words of my English teacher eight years ago: Don’t procrastinate or you’ll end up fucking yourself. If anything, do it for God and His kingdom.