How to Successfully Procrastinate

Ashlyn Steen

How many times a year do you end up with a massive, meant-to-be-week-long project sitting in your lap, untouched, on the night of the deadline? Be honest now. Just imagine the hours of sleep you’ve lost to procrastination. Try to count all the horrible nights of teaching yourself an entire unit the night before a test, or pulling a 25-minute long presentation out of your…eh, mhmm… in one hour. Maybe all you need to continue flourishing in these horrible yet exhilarating situations is to learn the art of procrastination. In just five easy steps, you could be on your way to a successful school career while still pushing every assignment as close to the deadline as humanly possible.

Step 1: Planning
The first, and most important step, in your late night journey to complete an assignment is preparation, which in itself is a bit of a paradox, but nonetheless essential. Plan your work out, make a list. It makes it seem smaller and more manageable; plus, it’s satisfying to cross off when you finish something and gives you an idea of what you have left to do. “Order your work from important to least important and get the most important stuff done, and if you don’t feel like finishing, then you don’t do the least important stuff,” Lillie Hawker, a successful senior procrastinator, says. Prioritizing is key.

Another great strategy is to make a work schedule to plan how long you think you’ll need before you begin trying to salvage your sleep schedule. “I make a list of all the things I need to do and give myself a time I want to have it done by,” junior procrastinator Avery Plathe says. If you know your workload, you can effectively keep yourself on schedule and ultimately have time to sleep on any given night. Scheduling procrastination is a potentially life-saving strategy.

Find an energy drink with guarana in it.”

— Sarah Homrighausen, junior

Step 2: Resources
Immediately after organizing your workload, you must determine if you have the energy to finish all your work in one night. It’s a big ask and, as such, often requires external assistance. Get yourself a snack and make sure you’re hydrated. You have a long trek ahead of you.

In some cases non-caffeinated drinks and some food is all you need, but for more extreme nights, energy drinks or coffee is highly suggested. Red Bull, Bang, Monster, and Reign Energy Drinks are all preferable options to get you through. When in doubt, all you need to look for is one simple little ingredient: “Find an energy drink with guarana in it,” says Sarah Homrighausen, a junior who works late into the night. “You won’t be able to stop moving and you will get the work done in half the amount of time.” Find an energy source that works for you, and your night will be a million times less stressful.

Step 3: Set Goals and Rewards
Seventy eight percent of Mount Vernon students who procrastinate cite some sort of lack of motivation as a cause. Obviously, this is a problem because the thrill of homework isn’t exactly enticing enough to hold anyone’s attention for more than a millisecond. Consequently, an outside force of motivation is necessary. For some, an angry parent or teacher will do, but for those of us who are expected to have some sort of inner drive to complete seemingly useless tasks, this is where we need to get creative. For Kayleigh Kirton, a freshman procrastinator, all it takes is the thought of what could be, in a world without homework, “I just think ‘If I get this done, I can go back to reading, or watching Netflix, or whatever I want to do, but only if I get this done’,” she says. Just the simple hope for one’s true bliss alone could carry someone through an entire project. Know yourself, if that’s enough, use it.

However, for others thinking of paradise only weakens your motivation. For that crowd, treats, phone breaks, or food will usually suffice. “I promise myself food after I’m done doing homework,” junior Isabel Klawiter, a master procrastinator says. Don’t be timid, go big with rewards. This stuff needs to get done.

Step 4: Environment
Now that you’ve completed the planning for one of the longest nights of your life, it’s time to choose a location. When completing a lot of homework in little time, it’s important to feel relaxed and mitigate stress. Look for a place with little opportunity for distraction, and turn your phone off through the entirety of your journey. For attire, choose something you feel comfortable or powerful in. Now it’s time to get into the zone. In regard to background noise, it’s important to know what you need. Are you someone who needs silence in order to stay focused, do you prefer white noise or soft piano music, or does using Lo-Fi beats and creating a study aesthetic help with your motivation? “Listen to Mario Kart music. It makes you feel like you’re racing to get your homework done,” recommends Sage Boettcher, a senior procrastinator. Boettcher has it figured out. Find your natural adrenaline boost.

If it looks like you tried, the teacher might give you another chance and that is a procrastinator’s dream.”

— Mark Liberko, junior

Step 5: Get it Done by all Means Necessary
After completing every step on this list, you’ve done everything you can to salvage your situation, so let’s talk about missing the deadline. It can’t happen. Whether that means writing an entire paper in 15 minutes, or doing two pages of math homework without knowledge on the subject, just put pen to paper and write. “Just get it done, it doesn’t matter how terrible a job you do, just force yourself to do something,” Mark Liberko, a very wise junior procrastinator says. “If it looks like you tried, the teacher might give you another chance and that is a procrastinator’s dream.”

No matter the final product, be proud that you just made it through one of the most stressful circumstances known to man. Keep that confidence rolling and you might just be able to pull it off again. With that being said, I’m going to have to log off. It’s 11:58 pm and this paper is due in about a minute…