To begin with, I need to define the term “college essay.”
For far too long, this term meant “essays to get into college,” and I, like everyone else my age, spent far too many hours toiling away to get the perfect combination of words that would leave any admissions counselor dumbfounded. Also like everyone else, I had my fair share of hits and misses in the college application process.
Now that I’m in college, the term has a new meaning, and that is “a collection of words you have no desire to write but know that the consequences of ignoring outweigh the time it will spend doing it.”
Today was the day I had been dreading for a while now, because I knew that it was time to start that essay I was assigned almost a week ago.
Despite the fact that I knew there was no way to avoid starting this essay, I decided to do everything I possibly could to put it off.
Some of the best ways to do this that I found are:
- Going to a used book sale. Fortunately the Columbus Day weekend book sale was going on in Hyde Park, so I wandered over to see what I could buy to keep myself from working.
- Starting some of the new books that I got at the previously mentioned book sale.
- Playing Deer Hunter for a while.
- Searching Netflix for forever to find something to watch.
- Subsequently determining not to watch Netflix after losing interest.
- Catching up on various state legislative races around the country.
- Taking a nap.
- The mandatory browsing of Twitter and Facebook.
- Thinking of how I was going to start this article.
- Thinking of how much happier I’d be once I finally finish the essay.
- Frantically pacing, thinking of ideas.
- Responding to all those old emails I’ve been meaning to get back to for weeks.
Once I finally realized that I actually needed to start, I got to work (meaning that I’d take extended breaks after each sentence I wrote).
Some of the things I did that boosted my minimal productivity during this essay were:
- Make an outline. I know this is beyond a cliche, but given that you probably won’t know what you want to say after spending hours delaying this, it’s a good place to start.
- Selectively reread the reading. Of course this implies you ever did the reading to begin with, but if you start college off by doing no work, you’re setting yourself up for a long four years.
- Have someone look it over.
What follows will be exceedingly controversial:
- Do it a day early. It’s your first essay, and you want it to be good so you can slack off down the road and still have this to look up to as the crowning achievement of your four year college career. Anyone who knows me at all will be shocked to read that I did my first essay…a day early so I’d have an extra day to make sure it’s as good as possible. Will I ever do this again? Probably not.
Finally, is it bad that I procrastinated the act of writing this article about procrastination in a form of metaprocrastination? Actually, I think it bodes well for the years to come.