According to a recent study by Piers Steel, a professor at the University of Calgary, 26% of Americans identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. The study also concludes that by eliminating the sound that plays whenever new emails arrive, the gross national product would see an annual increase of $50 billion. The study, however, was planned for release in 2002; it was not published until 2007.
Events like these highlight the inevitability of procrastination. No matter how many schedules we make, no matter how often we turn off our computers, our cell phones, our televisions, we will always procrastinate. The human brain is simply too easily distracted to avoid wasting time. This, however, may not be as terrible as Professor Steel suggests. By mulling over ideas in our heads, we can observe them from every angle, thus allowing ourselves to uncover new perspectives on certain situations and new solutions to certain problems.
I first realized the benefits of moderate procrastination last semester during English. Our class was assigned a personal retrospective, which consisted of five narrative pieces portraying life changing moments, five songs and works of art, each correlating to the theme of a specific piece, and five rationales explaining why the music and art stressed the theme and how the moments impacted our lives. Not wanting to fall behind, I began to pick moments at random, only trying to finish as soon as possible. After writing a few pieces, however, I realized how stupid I was being; none of the moments I had chosen were truly significant. For the next few weeks, I put off doing the project, hoping to be struck with inspiration. It didn’t come. Determined to choose important moments, I ransacked my brain, searching for something, anything that related to the project. Finally, after weeks of thinking, I had my idea. The project, however, was due in three days. Although I had to work intensely to finish the project, I was pleased that I had waited. By doing so, I was able to choose moments that actually affected my life. Honestly, I learned more about myself in those three days than ever before.
While procrastination may seem scientifically counterproductive, science does not factor in the complexity of the human mind. We don’t always think concretely, and, therefore, our behavior cannot be determined from even the most detailed statistics. Therefore, when pressed for time and desperate for a solution, I believe humans can overcome the science of procrastination and ultimately flourish.
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