By Alicia Chen
There’s a force on this world, more prevalent than gravity, faster than light, and it’s man’s greatest enemy. No matter how hard one tries to resist it, it always catches up. Yet, if one tries to catch it, it always seems to slip beyond our grasps. This frustrating force, this fighting foe— is time. The hands that tick on a clock, the seconds that go by, a precious battle lost once again, to time. My entire life, it seems that I have been trapped in time’s prison. I have always seemed to watch everyone from behind bars, wondering how they got where they are, and how I became so far behind. As my mom always tells me, “everyone has 24 hours in a day, it’s how we use those 24 hours that separates us apart from everyone else.” I just can’t seem to figure out how everyone else uses their time better than me. In middle school, and before then too, I was always getting my assignments done the day they were assigned, but now I get them done the day before they’re due. It’s a phenomenon that can really only be given one name: procrastination. It hit me, somewhere between eighth to ninth grade. It was time’s way of sending me on a long road to a losing battle. Time shoved me onto this road of procrastination, and now it just stands aside, watching me grapple and scrape my way back onto the path of winners. The path where I’m not constantly under the force of procrastination. The force that keeps me waiting.
I’ve tried, plenty of times, to get things to how they used to be. I’ve followed all the right tips on How to Not Procrastinate, but everytime, I always end up in this same position: waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting until the last minute to complete my assignment? What, do I think that I’ll have better ideas if I wait? The second I asked myself that question, it all seemed to click in my brain, a gear shifted and I realized why I’m always waiting. It had nothing to do with how early I woke up in the morning or how many to-do lists I made (although those did help a bit), but in that moment I realized that the reason I’m always procrastinating on assignments (namely english assignments) are because I’m waiting for an idea to hit me. I’m (as Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote for Aaron Burr) “not falling behind or running late
… I’m not standing still, I am lying in wait”. I’m “lying in wait” for an idea to suddenly zoom out of the sky and fall into my brain. That’s how it works for me. Whenever I get an assignment, the first thing I do is sit somewhere (usually outside), and just sit there, looking around and waiting for an idea to smack me in the face. People brainstorm, and when they brainstorm, they’re essentially putting all the ideas that have been in their brain, on paper. They sort of just sort through all of the jumbled up ideas in their brain, shuffling through them like papers in a too-full binder, and trap them in a jar that is the paper. This ensures that they don’t fly away, or fly out of their brain. Trust me, ideas fly away. Have you ever had a great idea at night, then went to sleep thinking “I’ll remember when I wake up”, then wake up with the dreaded feeling of forgetfulness? Then you start scraping through every little inch of your brain, just trying to remember what your idea was? What if ideas just float around, and they choose to “float” into the brains that are essentially “worthy” enough?
I’m no expert about brains or how they work, and this isn’t the most scientific, but for some reason, before every assignment, an idea has always hit me. Call me lucky, but I’ve always wondered what would happen if one time an idea didn’t hit me. What would I do then? I always like to give it my 110%, put my best foot forward, and consequently, write about the best idea that floats my way. I think that we all have our own reasons for procrastinating, and mine just so happens to be that I’m always waiting for something. In order to overcome this procrastination phenomenon, we have to face the fact that the task ahead isn’t going to disappear if we wait it out, in fact it usually just looms ahead of us, spoiling our stroll outside. It’s the boulder rolling down a hill, the longer one waits to complete the task at hand, the harder the crash will be. If you choose to stop the boulder before it’s too late, the end result will turn out a thousand times better than if you had put the task off. In the end, we all make the conscious decision to do something, and we therefore make the conscious decision not to do something, we just need to realize why we are making the decisions we make, and change them if need be. If better to start now than to just lie here, waiting for a cure for procrastination, because it’s not coming.