The Lie of Working Well Under Pressure

How many of us would say that we “work well under pressure?” I used to think I did. In fact, I survived my entire college career, up through my graduate work, by putting everything off until the very last possible moment.

 After staying up all night hacking away at the keyboard and downing enough caffeine to keep a 572 lb mammal awake for no less than 72 hours, I finally managed to complete my assignment.

Then the grades would come back, and lo and behold, I managed to pass, most of the time with an “A.” I thought to myself: “Why would I spend so much time preparing for a paper that I can do at the last minute, and still get an ‘A’ on?”

So what’s the deal – am I some sort of genius or was I born with some supernatural ability to churn out papers on a whim? Hardly! The truth is, all that procrastination allowed – no, forced – me to do something very powerful:FOCUS.

When there was no time left to do anything but write the paper, I became intensely focused and concentrated. I took my phone off the hook, I turned off the music and TV, and I even forced myself to only use the Internet for research related to my paper. Oh, and I consumed mass quantities of caffeine and put little things like sleeping and eating on hold (not advisable).

Another byproduct of my concentration was a coherent thought process that ran throughout the entire work, almost as if *gasp* it was written all in one sitting!

It finally hit me one day – “what if I made myself work like this (project, paper, whatever) is due tomorrow morning, even when it is not really due for two weeks?

I find that if I treat each project or task I face with the same level of urgency and concentration, amazing things are possible! I encourage you to give it a try for yourself (except maybe the caffeine overload/sleep depravation part).


Anyone else a recovering procrastinator?




2 thoughts on “The Lie of Working Well Under Pressure

  1. I used to tell myself in college: There’s always enough time to do what needs to be done. But I still managed to waste a lot of time and had to a number of all-nighters. After grad school I learned that procrastination and perfectionism were tied to self-hate. Oh wow.

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