The Art of Procrastination

first_imgSalivating at the delicious prospect of Cherwell’s unveiling of the dark, seedy underbelly of Oxford? We always knew it was there, just under the surface of the squeaky clean G and Ds and tame Park End exterior; and this particular vice is a deeper, more powerful force than any old run of the mill, passe illegal vice you can think of. Before the pressures of Oxford life, we never knew the true value of msn messenger, the hidden joy of drinking coffee or the real function of the pub: ways of delaying the inevitable pain of sitting at our desks and facing the mountain of work that has been building up since minus 0th week. Delve under the surface of our seemingly hard working student base and you will find a community of hard-core procrastinators addicted to its guilty pleasures. The acute procrastinator is the person who does in fact go to the library, but sits writing lists of all the things they must do before they go to bed or the Top Ten episodes of the Simpsons that cannot be missed. When it’s finished, they will, they assure you, write their essay, but you find them still there a day later finishing a box set dvd season of 24. However, we can all relax, because our collective problem has been diagnosed, defined, and finally made a real excuse by friendly scientists who are on our side. Hooray! Psychologists have become interested in this widespread phenomenon and have come up with a technical definition of procrastination: ‘to delay voluntarily an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay’. It seems that, despite all our efforts to be individuals, there are in fact only two types of worker – firstly the irritating and universally hated type who can be found in the Bodleian five minutes after their tutorial, finishes their work with two days to spare and then, comically, worries about having not done enough and frightens the rest of us in the process. Then there is the procrastinator. Apparently some are lucky enough to be relaxed about the whole thing, and do their laundry at 5am rather than their essay, with no trace of anxiety. For the rest of us, the miserable effects of a looming deadline; that panic stricken feeling and the familiar wail of ‘I’m so stupid! Why didn’t I write my essay instead of spending all night rearranging my CDs into genre sections?’ has been labelled with the comfortingly scientific term ‘voluntary action delay anxiety syndrome’. True. Unfortunately, although this may give us some leverage with despairing tutors (it may be particularly helpful to label your affliction VADAS, to make it sound more severe) there is as yet no miracle cure. So what are you going to do now; read Cherwell one more time, go for a drink or make a start on that essay?ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2004last_img

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