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The procrastination game: How players hide their feelings

By Abigail Bates, Guest Writer

Here I am again, sitting in King Library at 3 a.m., trying to finish a paper due the next day - or later today I should say. I'm one of the few pitiful students still working into the wee hours of the morning. One guy a few desks over has fallen asleep with his face in his textbook. I envy him. Empty coffee cups from King Café and various pages of notes surround me. Blinking my bleary, dry eyes, I gaze at the all too white word document open before me on my laptop screen. The flashing text cursor is taunting me, "Two more pages to go! Muahahaha."

I begin to do calculations in my head to figure out how much sleep I could still get before my first class the next day if I finish in a certain amount of time. But, I know I'll end up staying here later than predicted, because when it comes to writing papers, I am dreadfully slow. Especially when they're supposed to be in French, analyzing a poem I've read 10 times and still don't fully comprehend. This is exactly why I should have started the paper a week ago when it was assigned, but instead I put it off and procrastinated even though I knew in the back of my mind that I would regret that decision. Sound familiar?

If you're a student, like myself, then you probably have been in my situation before. In fact, a study done by the British Psychological Society says that 95 percent of students procrastinate. The same study says that, "Writing tasks have been reported to be the most common kinds of delayed assignments presumably as they usually carry a heavy cognitive load and require perseverance to complete." You don't say? (This piece of information is a little troubling as I aspire to be a journalist, but I will worry about that later.)

Usually by this hour, I'm finished or nearly finished with whatever assignment it is I've put off, but tonight my brain has hit a wall - the wall beyond which intelligent thoughts are few and far between after languishing on the same subject for over five hours. This happens sometimes, so I pack up and walk home feeling as bitter as the cold outside that I didn't start this assignment earlier.

Once home, I try to finish but sleep wins out in the end. It is a fitful and stressful sleep, with nightmares about turning in assignments late. My heart pounds from a combination of too much caffeine and stress - a common issue linked with procrastination, according to an article in Psychology Today. I think about the negative effects my destructive habits are having on me as I drift off to sleep, vowing to maintain better time management for the next paper. I wake up several times before my unusually early alarm, afraid I'll sleep through the time I allotted to continue working in the morning.

When alarm goes off, I instinctively check my email through squinty eyes before I do anything else, as usual. What's this? It's an email from my professor declaring that class is canceled for the day! I breathe a sigh of relief and reset my alarm for a later time. Now I'll have plenty of time to finish that paper later.