Make the Choice: Preparation or Procrastination

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“Make the Choice: Preparation or Procrastination,” New Era, Nov. 2012, 27

Make the Choice: Preparation or Procrastination

Which path leads to the better result?

preparation or procrastination

Illustrations by Bryan Beach

* Assignment

Your teacher assigns you to write a paper, due in two weeks, on a book your class just read. What do you do?

Option 1

Option 2

Day 1—Get the assignment, go home, review the book, think about your impressions of it, and take notes. (30 minutes)

Day 1—Get the assignment, go home, and think, “I’ve got plenty of time.”

Day 2

Day 2

Day 3

Day 3

Day 4—Look up passages in the book that support your ideas about it. Add them to your notes. (45 minutes)

Day 4

Day 5

Day 5

Day 6—Review notes and organize your thoughts. (15 minutes)

Day 6

Day 7

Day 7

Day 8—Write an outline from your notes. (30 minutes)

Day 8

Day 9—Write a rough draft based on your outline. (90 minutes)

Day 9

Day 10

Day 10

Day 11—Read your rough draft. Revise and cut it down because it’s unnecessarily wordy. (20 minutes)

Day 11

Day 12—Give your draft to someone to read, get feedback, and revise it again. (30 minutes)

Day 12

Day 13—Do a final revision, checking for spelling and other errors, and print out the paper. (15 minutes)

Get a good night’s sleep.

Day 13—Late in the evening, remember your assignment. Quickly try to form a mental summary of the book (which you don’t really remember very well). Skim through a few pages of the book to see if something jumps out at you. Look up facts and quotes. Write a few half-remembered ideas from class discussions. Stare at your document, with no clue how to connect all the material. Write more. Constantly check to see if the document meets the required length. Momentarily consider changing the font size and line spacing. Repeatedly cast your bleary eyes toward the clock and put your face in your hands, feeling stressed. Type a hasty conclusion. Print out the paper. (150 minutes)

Go to bed late.

Day 14—Go to class and hand in your paper calmly and confidently.

Day 14—Go to class and briefly consider asking for more time. Then nervously hand in your paper.

Later—Get your paper back and see that you got a good grade. Best of all, you feel that you actually learned something from the assignment.

Later—Get your paper back and see that you got the grade you deserved. Even worse, you didn’t learn anything—except the consequences of procrastination.