Completing A (Looming) Assignment


Receive the assignment. Be told by your professor “This is definitely not something you can start the night before it’s due.” Don’t take this as a warning; it’s a challenge.

The looming assignment will sit in the back of your mind for a while – it will weigh you down a little bit, but it won’t actively stress you out until you have anywhere between one to 72 hours to complete it. Start telling your friends about it. Complain a lot. Make as many people as possible aware of how shitty it is for you to do this assignment. Throw around the acronym “FML.” Test some friendships a little bit – hope that you have a strong support system of people who are academically discouraged and apathetic.

If you plan on working on the assignment instead of going out, you might even provoke some tears when you share your agony with others. Know that it’s against the laws of physics to complete a big assignment on a weekend night. Start the night hanging out with your friends while they’re sober, planning to go to the library later. End the night feeling inebriated and guilty, but maybe do a little research when you make it back to your room. Feel good – like you actually made some leeway.

Finally accept that you have to complete this assignment. Prepare to use every arrow in your procrastination quiver. Start by calling your parents. They’ll be really happy you called. Feel a need to ruin that — how can they be happy while you are going out of your mind from self-induced stress? Get sympathy from every source possible. Explain to them that school’s going well, but you kind of hate your classes right now, and have an unreasonable assignment that’s due tomorrow morning. Get lectured a little bit, and use it as a nice little pep talk –- take advantage of them telling you for the 1000th time that academics should be your priority. Really take it to heart this time, and make your way to your favorite study destination.

The options for distraction are even more limitless once you leave your room. Intentionally walk by your friends’ dorms/apartments/houses, and be sure to stop in if it appears they’re there. If you go to a public place to work, scour the building for friends and/or acquaintances. Feel free to bother them if they are clearly immersed in their own work. You’ll be a lot more interested in their lives when you’re procrastinating. Have a genuinely good conversation, but end it abruptly when you come back into the present and realize you need to be taking the final steps in actually starting the assignment. Gain some more sympathy, and be on your way.

Feel like you’ve made as many people aware of this horrible endeavor you’re about undertake as possible. Finally sit down to complete it. Take out your computer. Turn it on. Open a blank document, make your heading, and save the file. Open your web browser. Quickly find the details of the assignment and what’s expected of you. Feel confident that this is going to be easier than you expected. Type a few sentences. Find that you still need to keep the sympathy and compassion flowing, and send out a few quick text messages.

Let the inevitable occur: First, obligatorily update your status: “Huge project due tomorrow, camped out in the library for the day. FML.” Hope it gets some likes and maybe a few comments from genuinely concerned friends. Judge your self-worth by how many notifications you have, and begin mindlessly judging other people you know and don’t know (it doesn’t matter which) for the next five minutes to two hours. Really get engaged –- until the only thing on your mind is some friend-of-a-friend’s-friend’s photo album from Cancun. Eventually lose the capacity to draw any information or judgments of people from their profiles. Click around without using your brain at all. Be unaware that you’re actually pretty emotionally satisfied while mindlessly escaping reality on FB. Wake up from your Zuckerberg-induced stupor. Log out quickly. Feel pretty bad, and kind of exhausted.

Vow to keep your web browser closed. Play some music. Stop it mid-song. Become aware that you’re intentionally distracting yourself. Rush the assignment, and complete it. When your by now extremely large homework emotional support group asks you how it went, act detached and don’t go into detail about how you completely half-assed it. “It went fine.” Question if college is right for you, but be assured your approach to doing schoolwork fits right in with the mainstream.

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image – Scott Feldstein