Every night, I write out each task I need to complete the next day on separate sticky-notes and stick them to my bedroom mirror. When I wake up and get ready, I’m immediately faced with every task I need to accomplish before the day is over. I’ve had over fifteen sticky-notes littering my mirror some days. This day, I only had one.

“Write your Rhetorical Analysis Essay, 3000 words – Due today at midnight.” Something about the purple sparkly gel pen I wrote it with made the task seem less daunting.

Before I write an essay, I need to get into the right frame of mind. This requires a ritual, one I have been successfully practicing since high school. I call it productive procrastination.

My eyes darted to my nightstand clock, 9:30 a.m., then to my uninviting desk in the corner of my room. It was piled high with partially drank coffee mugs, each with a different inspirational quote on it. Half-crumpled course outlines and loose coins cluttered the entire surface, meaning my unused textbooks resided in a stack on the carpet beside the desk. I had 14 and a half hours to write my essay before it was due.Productive procrastination is horrible and I should not do it. My only problem is that I love productive procrastination and I continue to do it. Here’s how it works: I procrastinate the only task at hand while simultaneously completing random things I usually wouldn’t have the energy to tackle to compensate for my lack of effort.

Productive procrastination is horrible quote


“It will only take one hour to make myself a decent nutritious meal,” I thought to myself as I exited my room. “I might as well make something worthwhile to get my brain working properly.”

Two hours later I put six family-sized Mexican chicken casseroles in the oven to later be frozen for meal prep. While waiting for them to cook, I decided I might as well vacuum and dust the living room as well, as I’d have the cleaning supplies out to tidy the kitchen anyways.

I could hear the squealing oven alarm going off over the droning hum of the vacuum. It was now 11:45 a.m. Perfect, I would start my essay at noon.

I walked to my room and plunked myself in my creaky wooden desk chair. My eyebrows tensed. This was no environment to work in.

MessyDeskThe function of my desk is more of a shelf for the inevitable build-up of mugs and unused items than a space to complete homework. Photo by Chloe Chapdelaine.

I neatly flattened and stacked the scattered papers on my desk into alphabetical order and sorted out my coins into corresponding glass jars I had sitting on my shelf. The desk drawers were overpacked, so I also sorted the papers into dates and subjects. I then organized my pens by brand and colour. I was rarely in the mood to clean, so took advantage of this spur of productivity by cleaning my bedroom and washing the laundry that was beginning to pile up.

This momentum successfully continued with me running in a flurry around the house until I suddenly looked at the clock and realized it was 10 p.m. I still hadn’t written a word of my essay.

I had cooked six weeks of meals, vacuumed and dusted the house, done the laundry, emptied my junk drawers, colour coded my closet, put fresh sheets on the bed, scrubbed the toilets, cleaned the dishes, repotted my bamboo plant that was starting to get too big, but hadn’t yet written my essay.

I sat down, heart racing. Two hours. I was ready. I could feel the nervous adrenaline vibrating through my fingers. Everything around me was perfect. I always worked better under pressure, anyways.

Editor: Robyn Welsh | rwelsh@cjournal.ca

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