• Anya Fernihough

The Art of Procrastination

I think it’s safe to say that we all procrastinate, even if only a tiny bit. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be human. It’s like that saying: you could give me 10 years to write an essay and I’d still do it the night before it was due.

I don’t necessarily think that procrastination is a bad thing. After all, Leonardo da Vinci was famous for taking lengthy periods of time to complete projects and had endless pieces of work that remained unfinished, yet he is probably one of the most influential artists of the renaissance era, and of all time.

However, that doesn’t mean to say that we can also leave things until the last minute and still have as great of a success. A recent example I had was this summer; I had been set some art homework to complete over the holidays. It was an A3 study of examples of human presence (think crumpled pieces of paper and blankets thrown in a heap). Despite having over 6 weeks to do this piece, I decided I would make a start on the drawing 2 days before we came back in September. Of course, I am not da Vinci, so my final product was needless to say not great. It was decent enough: the bare minimum to keep my teacher off my back but if I had been even slightly more organised with my time, the artwork could have been significantly better.

I guess that just goes to show that procrastination isn’t a source of inspiration and talent for everyone. While some people may perform really well under pressure, others don’t. These procrastinators are expertly skilled in taking advantage of their lack of time to produce brilliant pieces of work. A reason as to why this may happen is that procrastination can create a clearer path for decision making. If you are struggling for time, you can’t afford to thoroughly consider all your options and instead are forced to take one over another. Nevertheless, there is still a risk of the decision ultimately being poor compared to other routes you may have taken if time were on your side. But that’s just it – time could have been on your side, if only you had bitten the bullet and made a start immediately.

Procrastination turns from good to bad when a change is made from active procrastination to passive procrastination. Active procrastination is when you deliberately postpone decisions and/or actions, using the increasing pressure resulting from this delay in action as motivation to get the work done. Passive procrastination is when you postpone tasks out of laziness, or because it looks too hard. These two types have very different results, from improved performance to increased stress respectively.

At the end of the day, procrastination shouldn’t solely be used to exploit our over-worked and extremely stressed minds to reach results of great success. Saying that, I’m still avoiding that pile of homework due tomorrow!