Monday, August 23, 2010

Student Journal: Procrastination's a Thief of Time

The following is the fourth entry in our current Zen Journal for the October 2010 LSAT.  In this segment, WB continues his ruminations on LSAT timing, but this one is in regard to actually taking the time for practice.
I learned a lot of really great things in college. I did a lot of reading and so, though I still don’t know nearly as many words as I’d like to, I greatly improved my vocabulary. I think this has come in handy on the LSAT so far. Despite the thick verbiage that litters the test, I’ve only rarely come across a word that I completely did not know. This makes me happy.

And yet, not everything I learned in college was good. Not everything was of benefit, namely my tendency – only exacerbated by the freedom and free time of college – to procrastinate. Despite the immense fun I associate with taking a practice LSAT, I’ve begun to procrastinate doing so. Ultimately, this makes me unhappy.

I’m a classic procrastinator: finding things – some important, many others not – to occupy my time, to slow me down, to prevent me from getting down to the business of the task at hand. Rather than simply beginning and, thus, ultimately finishing what I need (and often want) to do, I’d rather put it off just a bit more. Chat with a friend. Eat a snack. Check my email. Check Facebook. Check the score of the ballgame. Watch a “few” minutes of TV. Read an article in the New York Times. Do yoga. Clean my room. Straighten my desk. Organize my underwear drawer. Empty the garbage. Call my mom. Take a nap. Honestly, the list goes on, but rather than procrastinate further by employing another item from the aforementioned tactics – “Make a list” – I’ll move on.

Suffice it to say: I’ll usually do anything, everything, something to avoid my chore. Why? I’m not totally sure. I spent a great deal of time in college trying to diagnose my procrastination problem. Laziness? I don’t think so. Once I’m started on a task I’ll work as hard as anyone to get it done and done well. Fear of failure? That doesn’t seem right either, because once I’ve finished with something – say a college writing assignment – I’ve typically done quite well. I’m confident, in most instances, that, given a task, I can be successful.

Perfection. The answer lies in perfection, or that vague desire in many of us to achieve it. I describe it as vague because, although the desire to achieve perfection is an acute one for those of us who so desire it. Yet, the notion of perfection itself is a vague one. What is perfection? After all, however clich√© it has become, the old adage, “Nothing is perfect,” is, pretty much, universally accepted.

And yet, on an objective, multiple-choice test like the LSAT, perfection (i.e. answering every question correctly) is possible.

That’s not the kind of perfection I seek though, certainly not at this point. For one reason or another, I’ve grown weary of sitting down for three hours a session and knocking out an entire LSAT. I’ve convinced myself that everything must be perfect: the meal I’ve recently eaten must be nutritious enough and I need to have had a good rest the night before and I need enough time to get the entire thing in, without feeling rushed, before my next engagement and there better not be any reading material of more interest than an LSAT reading comp section around. Otherwise, I’ll have grounds for procrastination.

And procrastinate I will.

In college, whenever things came down to the wire, and I sensed that I must kick into high gear to finish whatever assignment I had been procrastinating, I would do it. The reality is that I’m coming down to the wire in my LSAT preparation and it’s time that I step it up. When I’m in need of speed and/or accuracy improvements in all three sections, it’s time to get moving on things. When I’ve got under two months remaining before my October test date, something more enticing, something easier, something more fun simply cannot be an option.

Next week at this time, I aim to tell you that I didn’t procrastinate. I plan to say that, despite other issues I’m still trying to work out with Mr. Bennett in route to LSAT Zen, procrastinating on taking the very test I’m preparing for did not make the list.