2, 4, 6, 8: Can You Say Procrastinate?


This is also from the book The Perfect Score Project, and of course, it’s about studying for the SAT. But really, it applies to so much, at least so much of my own life. I hate admitting that.

Often we don’t call it procrastinating, and we certainly don’t realize we are doing it because we are nervous or feeling anxious. We call it getting ready, clearing the calendar, clearing space around us, and other euphemisms for putting off what we need to do.

We may do productive things, but if they are not the things we are supposed to be doing, if we doing them to put off doing what we need to be doing, then we are procrastinating.

Debbie Stier (author of The Perfect Score Project) says Psychologist Dr. Bernstein wrote a book called Test Success, where he explained these mechanisms and he says, “to avoid the pain of unpleasant tasks, but procrastination causes even more stress and poor performance to boot.”

Once we no longer have those excuses, we may suddenly find ourselves exhausted, wiped out, feeling like we’re recovering from mononucleosis. These symptoms, Stier says that Bernstein says, are symptoms of anxiety, and should be coped with accordingly.

The next step is my favourite, because then you decide to settle down and work. But first, you need the books, at least, you do if you are like Debbie Stier and me. Because, she says:

“I’m a booknut; I shop for books the way some women shop for shoes. No matter what the problem, I’m always sure there’s a book (or, more accurately, many books) that will tell me how to solve it, even if I don’t have time to read them all. I’m comforted by their presence, and I like knowing that they’re there…. just in case. So I had built myself a cozy nest on the couch with all of my SAT books and office supplies ( I love office supplies), colored pens and stickies, highlighters and freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils, and when my nest looked like it was strong enough to support me in this secret cram session, I nestled in, ready to incubate for a few weeks before the test……”

and then she started ‘richoeting from book to book….’ this willy nilly test prep is bad. You grow frenzied, and confused.

Ms. Stier coped by leaving her nest and heading off and signing up for a local yoga class. I crochet. I would take a picture of my current nest, but my tranparency only goes so far, you know? ┬áIt’s kind of a mess, as am I.

Here’s the other thing I do- I get fed up with my nest and decide I have to clean it up and put it all away. Only while I am putting away my books and office supplies and snacks and crochet I am stumbling over new ideas for books to read and projects to distract myself with I mean make, and as fast as I am putting away stuff I am collecting new stuff, like some packrat building a new protective nest, which is kind of what I do.

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  1. Kim L.
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I’ve been using Christmas gifts for my children, nephews and nieces as my distraction lately. If I can manage to finish anything in time to mail it, then my anxiety will have been useful, but timelines for completion are another source of anxiety, so I am trying to limit my projects (or at least not tell anyone I had planned a gift for them).

    On another note, your blog is acting oddly again. When I go to your “home page” either typing in the address or hitting the banner button, the most recent story is the “conspiracy to keep us dumb & compliant” post from 2 days ago. I went to the comment section of that post, and hit next post until I got to this one.

    • Headmistress
      Posted October 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      How strange. It’s working for me, so I can’ reproduce the problem. Did you try clearing your cache and refreshing?

  2. Frances
    Posted October 14, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Echoing the love of office supplies when younger – less so now when blank paper is mostly replaced by word processor.

  3. Posted October 19, 2016 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Just perfect!!! Doing productive things is not really important, but doing what is productive at an appropriate time. Often times, so many people don’t know how they are stylishly procrastinating.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post.

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