Working With Your Flaws (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Deadlines)

I have an interesting relationship with deadlines, though I’m sure there are many of you who can relate: I completely ignore them.

…completely ignore them, that is, until the day anything is actually due. Then it’s up to the down-to-the-wire, finish-by-the-skin-of your teeth kind of stuff. That can mean I’ll finish a paper the night before. More likely, that will mean I’ll finish 5AM the day of.

Maybe it’s just a result of my upbringing: my family has done a LOT of traveling in my childhood, and I’ve spent a lot of that time getting my schoolwork done in between. I have many a fond memories of drawing assignments while traversing unpaved roads, or handwriting work under a hanging penlight at 3AM (the van still a couple of hours away from home). Or maybe it’s just in my nature: time management has never been a strong suit of mine, and there’s just so much else I want to be doing/that piles up as a result.

Simply put: I’m one big, lazy procrastinator.

Sure, there was a time when I tried to fight it; I remember an experiment where I did over half of a writing assignment a week ahead of time, then finished it the night before. I got a C. I was lucky the parts I finished last minute barely saved me from failing! Working under pressure turns out to produce my best work (or so my English grades tell me), and—miraculously—I’ve come out ahead.

So I’ve come to accept it.

Allow me to draw you to the real point of these ramblings: accepting your flaws. If there’s anything college has taught me, it’s that you have to understand how YOU work best. No one else can tell you how. And let’s say, through self-reflection/experience, you’ve discovered some faults. Some really tough, hard-to-face weaknesses in your character. It’s entirely possible you’ll never truly be happy with them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work with them.

For instance, I’ve learned that the only time I get any quality writing done is when it’s at the last minute. This is not an easy system to sustain, for obvious reasons. It is incredibly tiring waiting until the last minute to start writing, and since I always pull an all-nighter as a result, I end up losing the next day to exhaustion. The entire process is stressful and unhealthy.

So I started to work on a different method.

I discovered I only start to get into the groove after 11PM the night before. So I stopped forcing myself to write before then (after 11, I’d end up deleting it all due to mediocrity anyway). I started to also set up all of my prep work ahead of time—gone were the days when I would research, zero write, outline, and write all in one night (a time I shudder to recall)! Instead, I’d spend time beforehand just writing out what I knew of the topic, assembling citations, or attempting to outline in my head. My new goal was to be absolutely prepared for when 11 hits, when all I would have to worry about is actually writing the paper.

Now I’m experimenting with artificial deadlines—that is, making up an earlier deadline and treating it as the real one. This article, in fact, was written to an artificial deadline! (Let me know if it’s working out.)

But I’ll always be a huge procrastinator.

It’s not exactly something I’d take pride in, but it is a part of who I am. I always dread there’ll be that one night/morning where I’ll come up empty handed—and that has happened to me before. And there have been times I’ve caved and gone by the usual process, to the usual results. But working with this has helped me practice flexibility in my general work habits, and in a strange way, has even made me a more efficient problem-solver!

And if anyone ever needs that group essay put together quickly, thoroughly, and in the next hour, well…I can say with confidence: I’m your girl.

About Jessica Morales

Jessica is the Marketing Director & Publisher of NWYT. With a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and a minor in Music History, she is an avid reader, less frequent writer, and altogether just loves to hear a good story. To that extent, her field of study may have been slightly influenced by a certain movie archaeologist. Read more about her here. See All of Jessica's Posts

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