I was a day late coming back to school, and thus, was behind in my classes before my final semester at McGill even started. Despite this, I don’t feel an urgent need to catch up. But why do certain people seem to actually prefer regularly repeating cycles of falling behind and then desperately trying to catch up? Why do they exhibit almost self-sabotaging behaviour in which they inhibit their studious habits for certain (extended) periods of time, and only give that great push in dire times around midterms, exams, and paper-writing season?
I don’t neglect my studies, and I’m very capable of keeping up with my workload. I do my readings, never hand in my assignments late (even when affected by injury and illness—extensions are for quitters), and I attend every class. Except, of course, when I’m getting on a train three and a half hours after my last class has ended, as was the case on the first Tuesday back. So what is in our nature to make us want, nay, need to procrastinate? It’s detrimental and damaging, but we all do it. I have never known a single person, even those with 4.0 GPAs, who don’t fall behind at times. Five classes and extracurricular activities will cause this, but so will friend-related priorities, YouTube, and, of course, lack of motivation.
Procrastination is defined as an action wherein one “postpones doing something, especially as a regular practice.” But what I do, and what I believe many of my fellow students do, is not what I consider procrastination. As the definition itself shows, the postponing of my work doesn’t become a “regular practice.” According to the definition, if stopping becomes a regular practice, then an eventual return to our work would be a paradox. Simply put, in postponing the completion of a task, returning to it would not make the stopping a regular practice. What this definition lacks is “periodically postponing doing something.” Adding this would make procrastination, as we have come to know it, a correct term for students’ forays into Facebook and videos of Miley Cyrus smoking salvia.
Because of this discrepancy, I would like to put forth a new term for this common student habit: recrastination. Etymologically, this word, with close approximation, would mean “a return to something we have a desire to do tomorrow.” At any level of schooling, the assignments simply must be completed. In other areas of life, certain things can be put off perpetually, but this is not the case with academics. Eventually, an assignment must be handed in or an exam must be written. Avoidance is then no longer possible. We all return to our work, regardless of how long we may put it off.
Eventually, this word may take hold. I understand it is long and unnecessary, but if it makes even one individual feel better about putting off work due to the knowledge that one must, and will, return to their work, then this word may actually act as a positive influence on those who simply can’t bring themselves to write that paper on Foucault, or study for that damned calculus test.
I spent about a half hour while writing this article looking at Tesla coils that, through midi files, play music. Yet I returned to the article , and thus recrastinated. So don’t be discouraged if the class has already finished the first book of the semester and you haven’t even bought it. You’ll catch up … eventually.