Productively procrastinating amidst a pandemic

When the threat of COVID-19 led to all college campuses closing, my lifestyle took a major, yet not unfamiliar turn.

Confined to a farmhouse, surrounded by seven family members — not to mention 24 chickens, eight horses, and two large dogs — and schooling at home, my life is almost exactly what it used to be: homeschooled.

This lifestyle is one I have known for 12 years — only this time, my day is not wholly managed by a thick, unfeeling syllabus for all subjects. I now have four different instructors; four different sets of instruction, expectations, and priorities.

Instead of waking up early to commute to campus, I wake up early for barn chores and exercising the horses on the property. It is pleasant to interact with them daily, though I have to remember that college remains my top priority. With deadlines not as flexible as that of homeschooling, I cannot get carried away with my time at the barn.

I tend to push my academic duties closer and closer to the deadline, preoccupying myself with other productive tasks. There are always barn chores to be done, laundry to do, my room to clean, and bookshelves to alphabetize, but those don’t do any good toward getting assignments complete.

To fix this, I am trying to resist falling back into my ways of procrastinating by busying myself with other things: distracting myself with “productive” yet unnecessary tasks, listening to random lectures and podcasts without physically working on something, and — something unproductive — binging BBC shows.

I have been aware of how avoidant I can be, yet I haven’t cared to address it. This cycle results in nothing but wasting time that could be used for getting assignments done earlier.

It has been by no means fun beginning this process. Many times I catch myself slipping backward: not planning upcoming assignments thoroughly enough, completely forgetting them, or watching just one more episode of “Call the Midwife,”  and have had to reluctantly turn from them.

Once I have dragged myself through the effort of starting, however, I find there is momentum to continue. Though the same can be said about apathy and procrastination, too.

Every day I need to work towards being conscious about what is being done, weighing any possible opportunities that actions are costing me. Instead of responding to these conscious moments with apathy, I need to be responsible for whatever it is I am doing. 

 It requires more strategy than waking up and finishing studies within four hours while wearing pajamas — a stereotype I will proudly own up to as a former homeschooler. It is never exciting to start, but once there is momentum, there is some energy to push a bit further.