In college I once did a semester-long project in the last three days before it was due. It was my entire grade in the class. I started three days before the due date because I had to interview some people and thought that they wouldn’t appreciate a 3am phone call from me, someone they had never met. So I did interviews during two of the days and then thought about it for another day before sitting down at my word processor (yes, I have just dated myself) to type away the night before.
During the semester we had many, many class meetings in which we were to give progress reports. I always stayed silent unless I was directly called upon. When those days happened I would share what I was planning to do. Fellow students would incredulously say to me “You still haven’t done anything?” I would tell them I had given it a great deal of thought and had a lot of ideas.
The night I was working, a roommate of mine was also working on a paper at her word processor. Her’s was due three weeks later. I actually made her nervous by waiting so long. She would watch me for a while and then had to go to her room because her stress over my procrastinating was making her stomach hurt. She was a sweetie.
Later that night we had the first huge snowfall of the semester. And it was college, so we all bundled up and went out for a campus-wide snowball fight. After an hour or so out in the cold the four of us came in for hot chocolate. My three roommates then all padded off to bed since it was well after midnight. I plopped back down at my word processor and dug in.
I finished the project, which was a three part article on lead poisoning for my advanced journalism class. (Supposedly if you could pass this class, which not everyone did, you could work at any newspaper in the country.) I made it to class by 8am when it was required to be on the instructor’s desk. Half the class watched me to see if I just brought some more ideas or if I actually had something to hand in.
A week later we received our grades. I had earned an “A.” Many of the “more prepared” students did not. Procrastination runs in my blood.
I have to remind myself of this story a lot lately. Procrastination apparently also runs in the blood of my daughter. She can watch the clock tick away while giving me the stomach ache and then jump up three minutes before we need to leave and dress, brush her teeth, eat and head out the door all in record time. Most days she gets an “A” too.