Procrastination – a story of weeds
By Cassie Sneikus
During a procrastination-fuelled clean, I found my old Nintendo DS Lite sitting in a forgotten drawer. I tried to kickstart it about 25 times, fondly remembering that I had to carefully insert the Animal Crossing game chip into the device on a certain angle so it would work. Must admit, I wasn’t quite as skilled as I was 10 years ago.
Lately, I have been engaging in activities I never would have had time for pre-COVID-19. I baked brownies and banana bread late at night and successfully finished a 1000-piece puzzle. Animal Crossing has racked up hours of play in the last week. It took me days to clear out ten years’ worth of weeds; it was almost impossible to see the ground. More recently, I recreated a photo of a young Margot Robbie reading Harry Potter, as even my mother thought it was me – if you’ve seen the photo, no, it’s not a compliment.
Even though social isolation has equipped me with more hours than I know what to do with, I find all this “productivity” is just procrastination on a huge sector of my life – university.
Have I completed the last two weeks of university material since we moved online? Debatable. Even with all this time on my hands, I find I am still struggling to watch a two-hour lecture online, or read hundreds of pages on admittedly interesting topics ranging from Cold War cultures, to history of the Middle East, to Baroque music. Instead, I searched through the entirety of our medical files just because I was curious to know my blood type and bought a subscription to Ultimate Guitar because why not.
It’s something I feel both incredibly guilty about but at the same time, I don’t. Who wants to read a dissertation when you can sell peaches in Animal Crossing to our good friend Tom Nook? From all the defeated messages I’ve been getting from my friends, I know I’m not alone in this.
“We don’t manage time, we manage ourselves, we manage our lives,” Dr. Joseph Ferrari, Professor of Psychology at DePaul University explains in an interview. “There are 24 hours a day, not more, not less, and it’s what do we do with those 24 hours, those seven days a week, those 365 days a year.”
This unlimited time is difficult for us all to structure. We are so used to having our lives revolving around movement that staying in the same place is not stimulating us. Our daily schedules are a skeleton of what they were even a month ago. No longer do we have to wake up hours earlier to travel to the city in peak hour to make it to work on time. Nor do we have that one-hour train trip to read the readings for that day’s classes. We cannot meet our friends for lunch or schedule a study session to have a laugh and motivate us to complete something. We used to be able to say, “I might go to the gym,” and eat ice-cream instead, but now we can’t even validate ourselves with the belief of at least we thought about it.
To summarise, trying to get university work finished at the moment in the confined space of the same location is like trying to pull out every single weed that had grown in the ten years since I last opened Animal Crossing. Tedious, painful, and downright boring.
The advice I have often been given is to look at the future consequences that will be impacted by your choices in the present day. In a normal situation it makes sense, but how can we look ahead when the future is so murky due to COVID-19?
The anxiety of procrastination can twist its way into our lives like a weed. A weed grows at each panic of a job loss, with each university assignment not yet started, with each thought that we should be doing something productive like learning three languages at once since we have all this spare time. In a world spinning so fast, it is hard to feel like we are in control, and it is easier to procrastinate on things that are difficult when there are so many distractions available to us. It can be overwhelming.
Personally, I am trying to balance what I can control and what I am unable to. We can’t control social distancing rules, but we can choose to call our friends and stay in touch. We can’t control online studying, but we can try to shape our reaction, whether that is taking time off or trying our best to do what we can. We can’t control job losses and money, but we can reach out for help or offer help to our families and friends if we are able to do so. We can’t go to the gym, but we can try and do a fifteen-minute YouTube yoga video.
Our little friends in Animal Crossing don’t frown every time they see a weed due to something outside their control. They smile, pull it up, and keep on looking for those fish and bugs. I aspire to be more like them; rolling with the punches, enjoying and finding the satisfaction in the simple things in life without giving my rooted weeds of guilt or anxiety fuel to grow. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to take my own advice as it’s something I can work on, and something I can control. I hope you can find something you can choose to do too.
For those of you wondering, yes, I also procrastinated on university work by writing this piece. Whoops.
This article does not represent UN Youth Australia as a whole – this is simply an interpretation by one of our fantastic volunteers in hope to create ideas and increased dialogue surrounding this topic.
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