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Sixth-Grade Procrastinator

Editor's Note: I wrote this last week for my Project Planning class, for which I'm taking as I earn a Master's Degree in Interactive Media. Thought I'd share.


I've always been a procrastinator. This goes way back to elementary school. I specifically remember my very first time. For sixth grade, I had Mr. Maguire. He was a big, burly man who wore a big mustache and loved jokes. He was an army veteran who fought in The Korean Conflict and when he spoke about how he left the army, he would always say that he got injured.

"How'd you get injured, Mr. Maguire?"

"I fell on my knee."

"Which one?"

"Not my left knee or my right knee, but my heinie."

Oh yeah, sixth graders loved that joke. Mr. Maguire assigned us a U.S. State to cover. We had to do a 4-5 page report on the state. I had Alaska and I did nothing for a month. The night before came around and I panicked. Suddenly, I'm scrambling. "Why'd I wait so long?!" was repeated often. I wrote the report for most of the night. Handed it in on-time and then began to worry about it until I was handed the report back to me the following week. A+

That A+ gave me the permission to procrastinate for the rest of my life. I was proud of that grade, because I pulled it out of nowhere. Every time I had an assignment in Middle School or High School, even college - I'd procrastinate and think back to that report on Alaska. It was a badge of honor.

That grade also was an indication of the type of student I turned out to be: The Straight-A kind.

I became a perfectionist, not because of my parents lording over me, making sure I did well in everything. Honestly, a lot of the work felt easy. The math was easy. The facts were easy. But also, I was able to understand exactly what the teachers were looking for and satisfy their needs. This week's reading brought to light the two reasons why I procrastinated:

1. I was bored with the material, because once I knew it, I stupidly wanted to move on.

2. I was afraid of failure. I didn't want my perfect grades to be ruined.

It was only after school, when I woke up and realized that procrastinating wasn't a good thing. (I'm such a great student, that it took me years to figure this out. Real slick.) Putting together productions for short films and web series, you have to plan ahead. It's imperative.

So I was able to break the history of procrastination with organization and pre-production skills. I probably could've continued my procrastinating ways, but I cared too much about the final product to let that happen. And I didn't allow my perfectionist ways to intercede in my productions. The arts are so subjective that you'll never make everyone love your story. Ever. No matter how universally heralded it may become, someone won't like it. Once I understood that, I was able to rid myself of procrastination.

It may crop up every now and then, but I recognize it just as fast and I move on and get the work done.

Side Note: For all those perfectionists out there, I find that having children was also a great way to break my ways of making sure everything was perfect. Maybe it's just my kids, but it's a losing battle when it comes to trying to be perfect. I just try to keep up with those little human tornadoes.

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