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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tufts chapter.

I never considered myself a procrastinator. As a child, I always organized and planned out projects ahead of time. To this day I keep a comprehensive planner for all my assignments. Back when I had a lot of reading, in order to finish it on time, I would use sticky notes to separate the book into sections and create due dates for myself weeks before the book was actually due. Planning ahead is important, necessary actually, for me to get things done before the deadline. Most people who plan ahead do not consider themselves procrastinators. Sure, I don’t always do things when I set dates for myself, but if I am going to the effort to plan ahead, I must not really be procrastinating, right? Well, I surprisingly discovered that is not true. It all began with studying my sleep habits.

            I can never get to bed early; I wish I could because I get reliably get tired at ten. But I don’t usually go to sleep until after twelve. My average bedtime, especially this week, has been one thirty in the morning. It makes it harder to get up in the mornings, and it makes me infinitely more exhausted throughout the day. It becomes much more difficult to go to the gym, and I end up craving sugar all the time (it’s proven that constant sugar cravings are related to a high stress level and poor sleep). Then I am not only battling with guilt about not going to the gym and even more stress because I don’t have an outlet for my anxiety, but I will eat sugar until my stomach aches to try and satisfy the cravings that never yield. I need more sleep, and I need that sleep before midnight.

            This winter break, I decided to take a look at my sleeping habits and how they had spiraled out of control. In analyzing them, I realized that I procrastinate sleep. Every night, when I begin my work (usually around nine because I have meetings most days) I feel like I have infinite time. Nine is early! I do not need to go to sleep at nine. Therefore, my brain thinks it has all the time in the world to do work, slowly and casually, because I really only have to get to bed by twelve forty-five to get eight hours on my early mornings. I’ll go on my phone a little, text my friends, scroll through instagram, watch a food video or two and then it’s nine forty-five, and I have to put my phone away because I realize that I should get to working.

And then I work, but I often get distracted. I’ll go to reread my writing and then I’ll think of something I need to do, and if I’m smart I’ll write it down to do later, but if I am being difficult, I will obsess over it until I have to reroute my brain to working. And then I work a little more and it’s about eleven thirty. But I haven’t finished yet, so it’s crunch time. I work really fast without getting distracted to get it done before the due date. One of the reasons I never considered myself a procrastinator is because I can usually accomplish everything I need to on time. But even on a good night, I’ll finish my work before twelve thirty and start getting ready for bed, which leads to falling asleep around one thirty.

            I have an extensive nighttime and morning routine. I consider myself a slow-mover, hence I am often late. My mom used to get angry when it was late, and I had to moisturize my face before sleeping or going somewhere in the morning. “Can’t you just skip a step?” she would scold, as I put on moisturizer. “No, I can’t, Mom! You don’t get it!” I would yell back down the stairs, as she tapped her foot for me to hurry up. For sure, I could have gone a little faster, but I don’t like the feeling of leaving my house or going to bed, if I have skipped a step of my routine. Routines exist for comfort anyway, and I find plenty of that in mine. That said, I know all of these things about myself. I cannot get ready for bed in fifteen minutes. I need thirty before bed and at least an hour in the morning. It’s okay if I like to take my time; I just have to give myself enough time to do so.

            But I reliably don’t. Because it’s now twelve thirty and in order to get eight hours of sleep I need to be asleep in fifteen minutes. Impossible. So I take my time and continue with my routine. I see my friends in the bathroom and talk to them about their love lives and giggle and it’s the best, truly. Except I have finished my work right before it was due, and it’s not as good as if I would have written the article a week ago and given it time to sit. And on top of that, once I get in bed I want to journal, which always takes ten minutes more than I expect, and then I want to read my pleasure-reading book, but it’s the one thing I can’t justify doing, if it takes more time from my sleep. I end up falling asleep around one thirty or one forty five which means I get seven hours of sleep. For most people that’s no problem, but I can’t function on less than eight, and I know that about myself.

            If I have only around an hour and a half of focused work to do, and start at nine, why can’t I get to bed before midnight? My friends can do it; my mom can do it, but I reliably cannot. And it is because I procrastinate sleep by being on my phone, cleaning, picking out the next day’s outfits, getting distracted, and talking to friends. All good things in isolation, but not when it means losing sleep.

            I still have yet to find a way to get better at sleeping on time; perhaps it’s partially living in a triple. I hope there would be less to distract me if I had my own room, but I’m not sure. I try to be more efficient during the day, but my days are really busy, and it makes that difficult. And this carries over into the academic sphere. Perhaps it is the fact that it is hard for me to focus, or perhaps it’s that I don’t really feel like doing some things, so I take longer to do them. Or maybe it’s that when I plan ahead, I am unrealistic and therefore cannot complete my goals. My mom thinks I need more self-discipline, and that could be it, too. But all in all, what I have come to understand this semester is that procrastination affects more than just deadlines; it affects my lifestyle, and even though I mostly get things in on time, and usually they are just good enough, I have lost a lot of confidence in myself, my work, and my routine of self-care, if it means I cannot stay on top of something as simple as going to bed before midnight.

Elizabeth Sander is a National Writer for Her Campus and a recent graduate from Tufts University, where she earned a BA in English and French. Elizabeth served as a Her Campus Editorial Intern for the Fall of 2020 and loved every minute. When not writing articles about all things culture and style (or the occasional personal essay), Elizabeth spends time creative writing, reading and working on flying crow pose. Next up on Elizabeth's agenda is Columbia J-School! Find her on insta @elizsander or for meals inspo @confinemnt_kitchn