News — July 15, 2017 at 6:05 am

Defer, delay, dawdle, demur

by

Wenting Li

No matter what you call it, Jason Surendran was a first-class procrastinator. Until he put things off one too many times

Facts & Arguments is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.

Remember that thing you were supposed to do and said you would do it in “five minutes” but then never did? Or how about when you said, “Yeah, I am going to start the project on Sunday night,” but pulled an all-nighter just before the deadline?

Well not me. I am proud that I don’t procrastinate any more. What? You don’t believe me? Then join me on my journey through the final days of my bad habit.

Imagine you are scrolling through your Twitter feed. Bored, you click on a video and, suddenly, are startled to hear the sound of a metal mechanism. Immediately you realize that it is the sound of the garage door – and thus your imminent doom.

Thoughts flash through your head about the chores you were supposed to do before your parents come home, but decided to do later because there was plenty of time: the floor should have been swept an hour ago, you have not done your laundry and your room looks like an earthquake has recently occurred. The fight or flight instinct kicks in: You sprint like a cheetah to your room and with eagle eyes throw everything into the closet. You grab the laundry and complete an Olympic-style long jump down the staircase and heave it into the washing machine. You grab the broom and quickly sweep every dust particle under the closest couch.

Just as you finish, your parents exit the garage and as the door handle turns, you see it out of the corner of your eye – dishes still not washed. You know you are done for.

It occurs to me that if only I had completed my chores earlier, maybe I would have been saved from the hour-long lecture about responsibility and not had my phone taken away. The dagger hit home when Mom said, “We are not angry at you, we are just disappointed.” That’s when I know I have failed them.

I decided to change my ways. I felt bad, so something like this would never happen again, right?

But procrastination is hard to shake. Sitting on the couch waiting for your Pizza Pops you are excited to hear the “pop” that signals they’re done. But that pop sounds familiar, like something you did in a chemistry lab a while ago. The same lab that has a report due by midnight.

I realized that even though my Pizza Pops are ready, my lab report was certainly not. It’s 11 p.m. Before long, you are typing 200 words a minute and you feel like your hands have lost control of how fast your fingers are smashing the keys.

There is no doubt that you will be able to complete it on time. It is 11:50. With a sigh of relief, you open the online submission website and select your file. But there is one problem, you can’t submit. And that is when realize that the essay is indeed due at 12 … 12 yesterday.

Next time things will be different, you vow. You’ve finished your chores and homework, washed every food particle off the dishes and even got a head start on an assignment due the following week. You have adopted a new motto: No putting off for tomorrow what can be done today.

With no more work to do, you decide to take the day to relax and chill with friends. You grab your car keys to pick up each of them while also glancing at the time. It is 5 p.m. and you determine that you can salvage about five hours before you go home. Before long, your friend in the back seat mentions another friend is having a party and that you should drive over to visit. Just as you arrive you get a phone call. It’s your mother. “What time will you be home?” she asks. You look at the time and see it is 9. “Definitely, in one hour.”

But then you are in the last round of a pool tournament against some guy you have never seen before. As you hit the last eight-ball in, you pull out your phone to take a picture of the victory. But just as you click the power button, your excitement fades away. It is 1 a.m. You are three hours late.

You ditch your friends and drive straight home. Maybe you’ll get in trouble, but maybe there’s a chance your parents are asleep, right? Wrong. They are wide awake and ready to have a talk with you. For every hour I was late, I had an hour of a lecture as my punishment. On the bright side, I know that my parents are concerned for my well-being.

All in all, procrastination got me nowhere. Of course having fun and enjoying life is important, but I have also learned that there is a time and place for everything and there are times when procrastination has no place at all. Me? I used to procrastinate a lot, but nowadays, I get my priorities straight. This leads me to my final question. When is the English essay due again?

Jason Surendran lives in Mississauga.

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