The Pros of Procrastination
In the interest of full disclosure, I willingly admit that I procrastinated this article far too much. Since freshman year I have noticed a steady decline in my ability to work and plan ahead, partially due to the greater number of responsibilities I’ve accumulated, but mostly because of the general deterioration of my once overly-productive work ethic.
Procrastination is certainly perceived as an enemy of the Hopkins student. With so much to do in so little time, delaying work of any kind can lead to extremely stressful breakdowns, sleepless nights or a dangerous influx of caffeine. But in the academically-intense environment that is Hopkins, procrastination is not only inevitable, but even sometimes—dare I say it—helpful.
“I should have studied that extra half-hour for the quiz,” I tell myself. “Why didn’t I put in a little more time into that essay?” “If only I had started the project a day earlier, my poster wouldn’t be so messy, right?” It’s easy to fall into this self-reprimanding mindset without realizing the value inherent in letting yourself take a break. Healthy academic competition amongst students is empowering, but it’s also crucial to prioritize a happy and healthy mind, body and spirit. (Besides, staying up late to finish an assignment isn’t worth the cost of falling asleep in class the next day!)
While I don’t mean to condone a chronic or detrimental habit of procrastination, I do believe there is a hidden benefit to the things we do when we aren’t focusing solely on work. There is something to be said for watching an extra episode of “Mad Men”, or getting an extra hour of sleep, even if it is at the cost of a grade. (I know. Can you believe it?)
I’ve learned about humor, culture and even politics and social justice from watching what some might deem as “mindless television.” Additionally, the classes where I am most engaged during the school day always follow the nights in which I’ve gotten the most sleep. If overworking comes at the cost of being unhappy, isn’t that just as unfulfilling as never working at all?
We strive for the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle, but oftentimes it is hard to find the proper balance. Is it possible at Hopkins to get good grades, maintain a healthy social life, and sleep the recommended amount? This is often a question posed by college students, but it applies to Hopkins students, as well.
The balance is ultimately possible to achieve through years of mastery. As a senior, I’ve learned enough about my own work habits and daily schedule that I can manage my time accordingly. Of course, it will take awhile to adjust to the hectic life of a Hopkins student. So, to younger students reading this, here is my advice for you: Forgive yourself. Do not beat yourself up if you give yourself that extra sleep, or watch that extra episode, or stay up late talking to your parents about something funny.
Don’t undermine the importance of these experiences and habits, because they contribute to making you a more well-rounded, thoughtful and interesting student and person. Be dedicated to your work, engage thoughtfully in class, and seek the areas of study that you find interesting. But lastly, commit to a healthy body and mind; work hard, play hard, sleep well.