Ever had homework for breakfast? Please tell me you’ve done that. You push off assignments until the morning, expecting you to be fresh and ready to do all the work you’ve postponed — it often fails.
I’ve done it numerous times before, and it’s an example of what I think is the worst kind of procrastination: kicking the can down the road.
So you’re thinking this is about how students procrastinate and should work harder. Wrong. This doesn’t apply to just Virginia Tech students, or even students in general; it applies to more aspects in our society than you could even think of. It pervades it; procrastination is something that even our politicians can’t figure out.
House speaker John Boehner rejected a Senate plan that would further the payroll tax cut for two months and said, in a USA Today article, this is “just kicking the can down the road.”
Now this problem is not the Democrats’ fault, maybe not even the Republicans’ fault, but this is definitely the fault of the laziness and increased amounts of stalling — think filibuster — which has characterized the inefficient state of our 112th Congress. Nobody’s doing their homework; everyone’s going downtown on Tuesday nights.
It’s this decision to push things off that has reduced our lifestyles to simple post de facto measures; our solutions only reside in fixing a problem, not preventing them. This procrastination has effectively consumed our culture.
In a New Yorker article by James Surowiecki, he writes, “philosophers have begun to tackle the issue of procrastination for another reason. It’s a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia — doing something against one’s own better judgment. Piers Steel defines procrastination as willingly deferring something even though you expect the delay to make you worse off.”
How relevant is that to our lives? Think of medicine, politics, business and even the environment. In pharmacies, people get tons of drugs to fix their obesity, lung cancer and headaches, yet no one takes the time to diagnose the problem before it gets worse, therefore delaying the inevitable until they have to rush to make up for it (rising healthcare costs).
Think of British Petroleum’s devastating natural disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, where gushing oil destroyed the natural ecosystems that created and developed the human societies that were built on them today.
This negative externality was forced because of our society’s want for cheap, quick oil rather than preventing this kind of event by lowering demand and being more sustainable. Human self-interest is willingly deferring hard work and reasonable practices, knowing that it will hurt us more in the end.
It’s not only in America but also throughout the world: how many years of leisure did the residents of Greece and Spain have until the economies' belief in austerity bit them right in the behind? So, for us college students, procrastination doesn’t only happen to us, it’s happening in the very system we live in.
This is kind of scary, right?
But there is a bright side, and definitely a real, enjoyable solution. However, the problem is that we have to realize it within us. I’m not saying go and take the trash out right now or to tell you to do your homework; instead, I’m saying don’t hesitate or else you’ll end up doing yourself over.
By pushing things off like losing weight or passing legitimate legislation, we are only making matters worse. It’s easier to pay now than it will be to pay later, and if we can use the resources and technology we have now to avert difficulties later, never will we have to deal with the anxiety that comes from kicking the can down the road.