Productivity and Procrastination

One of the early ways I learned to deal with my anxiety was to do my school work ahead of time. I was always academically inclined, and I found that I could control my focus enough to decide when I would do homework and how much I would do. It soothed my nerves to know that I had already started that paper, that I had done the worksheet before the school day even ended. This, of course, leads to how irrationally fixated I am at living up to the standards I set for myself. I can't give myself a break. I also knew that there would be points when my anxiety would surmount my ability to do work, to do anything. If I studied in advance, I could get ahead and prepare for the moment when I could not maintain my composure. Since coming to Kenyon, I have found people way beyond me in terms of productivity. Partially, this is because I am not hyper-organized or controlling. I am anxious, and I have found that these things help me, but my natural inclination is not filing cabinets and extreme efficiency. Additionally, because my productivity has such anxious undertones, I can fall into self-loathing spirals when I do not complete what I have expected of myself. A lot of my personal work has actually been in allowing myself to start something late or not criticizing myself for having to put off one reading.

There has been a lot written, on Her Campus and other Kenyon publications, on Kenyon’s stress culture. It has become a badge of honor to list how behind you are in all your assignments and how many all-nighters you pulled in the last week. When you talk about how you’ve got nine hours of sleep every night this week and you turned in your paper five hours early, everyone is just kind of mad at you for not drowning in work. College is hard, and it requires a certain amount of energy just to be in it, just to get out of bed and face the boy or girl who broke your heart in the dining hall. That example might sound trivial, but it’s not. For 18-22 year old’s, though really for anyone, it’s hard to be in time-consuming classes, to make and maintain relationships, and to figure yourself out along the way.

Then, there’s work ethic. We all have a myriad of tasks, a myriad of problems, and only 24 hours in a day. What do you do with your time? For me, I like to spend a certain amount of time on homework per day so that I feel like I have earned my relaxation time. I like to begin my assignments with a lot of time to spare because then I do not worry as much about completing them, I do better work, and I avoid that period of crunch time. I always judged people who procrastinated and wrote the same paper in six hours that I had just spent two weeks on. It was brought to my attention recently, though, that I was not looking at the situation fairly.​Some people can’t control their focus. Some people can only be productive in certain environments, at certain times. Some people write better papers if they write them all at once and their only free time is between 10 pm and 7 am. Some people can and prefer to review all of the information for their exam two hours beforehand.

Everyone has different capabilities, challenges, and priorities. My abilities make it so that I write papers that could be handed in at least four days before the due date. I can do that primarily because I can call up focus mostly whenever I want. People who can't do that shouldn't be held to my preference. Procrastination has an inherently negative connotation, which doesn't allow for how diverse the definition of productivity is. There is not one correct way to be a student because there is not one correct to be a person.​


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