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Updated: May 31, 2021

I have written an 8 page, 4000-word essay in 4 hours. 5 including the research time. That is my highest record as a procrastinator. I was given 2 months to write that essay and I had planned to do it little by little every week to make sure I will write a good, well-researched essay. But you see, for the first three weeks, it was too early to start the essay. With so much time left, how could I have the motivation? For the next 3 weeks, I had been meaning to start the essay, in fact, I wrote it on my To-Do list every day. But then I discovered that trying five different 4-hour recipes, completely re-organizing my room, starting and finishing another Netflix series, and watching 12 documentaries on WW2 was more.. important. After all, I still had two weeks left. That was plenty of time. I honestly can't tell you where the next 13 days went except the fact that I had fully intended to write the essay at that time but somehow no words got written. Now I was 6 hours away from the deadline with nothing but the topic of my essay written. So I grabbed one(read: 7) cup of coffee and started writing. I somehow scored 23/25 for that essay, which is why I did it again.

Now, I have always postponed things in my life. Be it assignments, housework, or meeting up with friends. I always convinced myself that there was enough time left. I postponed meeting up with my friends in January 2020. After all, I would have plenty of time later, right? It's not like there would be no restaurants open and even if they were, we could just walk around, right? Well, no. For the first time, I realized that you can’t postpone life. You can't procrastinate on building relationships, on reaching out to friends, on enjoying yourself because time does run out. This lockdown has made me aware of the opportunities I miss due to procrastination. The experiences I forgo and the backlog I incur all because I convince myself that there is plenty of time left. Until I get the jolting realization that there isn't. That I missed opportunities that won't knock on my door again for a long time.

Procrastination, in the past few years, has become something that we joke about. Stories of pulling all-nighters to complete assignments have become a source of memes. But what this humor hides is the huge amounts of crippling stress, anxiety, and unhealthy implications that come with procrastination. As the deadlines near, the undone work you have put off piles up and becomes a source of stress. As a result of this stress, you cannot concentrate and have to put off even more work, leading to more stress. This accompanied by guilt about the pending work, the regret of not doing it earlier, and frustration can trigger mental breakdowns and burnouts.

The continuous stream of news about deaths, war, protests, and crisis, a lack of human interaction, and an inability to concentrate on online classes that have accompanied the lockdown have had such a negative impact on student's mental health. Combine this with the guilt and frustration of procrastination and you have a catastrophe in your hands. While we cannot change the lockdown, the news, or the classes, we can change ourselves. Proper time management can help lower our stress levels. Building a proper daily routine can increase motivation by giving a sense of control over our lives. At this time, following a routine can be extremely hard. I recommend trying the 21-day rule. Follow a routine, complete your work, no matter how hard it is for 21 days. In that time, the routine will become a habit and it would be almost a second nature to stick to that routine.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that life waits for no one at all. We have to adapt to it. So let's make an effort to build a better and healthier version of our lives so that we can enjoy life, in all its forms, to the fullest.

By GUNIKA KAUR / MAY 25, 2021

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