Even though I’m a very driven person, I am also a top-notch procrastinator. In high school I would wait until the last-minute to write all of my research papers. Often I was up early in the morning, finishing an article review or journal entry for an 8:00 a.m. class. I would stand around, clutching a Pop-Tart, cursing our printer as it slowly spit out my last-minute project. I always received high marks for the work, but I’m sure it wasn’t the best I could do. My procrastinating never really hurt me, so I assumed that it would be the same throughout college.
In college I started to become obsessively organized. I developed a system that allowed me to highlight, mark and find notes easier. I had a massive collection of Sharpie highlighters and Post-It flags for the sole purpose of note taking. I would read all the assigned chapters well in advance, again the day before and then highlight the important parts discussed in lecture. During lecture I would take notes using the Cornell method, highlight those notes in ROYGBIV. I gave sections highlighted in RED the highest priority (and so on down the spectrum). I would then flag the paragraphs in the book with a corresponding Post-It flag colour, so I could easily find the page when studying my notes. Then I would re-type my notes in an outline format. Every class had its own folder which I tabbed and colour coded. It was a little embarrassing.
You would assume that this kind of obsessive organizing meant that I was always prepared for every course. This was, however, not the case. I was constantly waiting until the last-minute because I used the organization as a crutch. I assumed that if I was organized and I understood it to the nth degree, I would never have problems. Throughout medical school I was constantly waking up in the middle of the night because I had a case study review or lab write-up due in a matter of hours. My repeated procrastination lead to me walking around like a zombie, a ridiculously organized zombie, but a zombie nonetheless.
As medical school wore on, I continued to let things wait until the last-minute. My procrastination branched out from academia and eventually started affecting my relationships. I was often buying ridiculously expensive presents for people I barely knew because I had forgotten to buy their gifts in advance. While I was in NYC for my residency, I remembered that I had a party for a relatively new friend in 20 minutes. As I was on Canal Street, I literally walked into the first shop with a dress in the window and bought a purse for the birthday girl. The store was Derek Lam and the purse was something like $700. Needless to say, the girl was thrilled. I however, was less than thrilled that my procrastination had set me back $700.
Even after graduating from medical school I continue to wait until the very last second to do anything. Asking for time off work, purchasing plane tickets, having dinner with friends, the list goes on and on. I’m not really sure why I always wait so long to do anything. Some people have said that it’s a control issue, and others view it has one of those things that makes me, me. Regardless of why I do it, I wish it was something I would outgrow. I don’t see the point in being insanely organized if it doesn’t seem to do me any good!
Maybe this post is like an introduction at an AA meeting. Perhaps I am crying out for help or some sort of intervention. In that case:
My name is RO and I am a procrastinator.
Questions: How did you stop procrastinating? What tips/tricks would you suggest I try?