The Five Stages of Stress and Procrastination

There was one night when I was with my friends in the common room and we were all procrastinating (as college kids do) and we somehow started comparing procrastination to the five stages of loss and grief. For those of you who don’t know the five stages of loss and grief, here’s a funny video that explains it.

Now for how we compared it to procrastination:

Step One: Denial

This is the stage where you don’t feel like you have a lot of work or you have more time than you actually do. This is where you put off work and do other things that you probably shouldn’t do first because you’re in denial that your work is due as quickly as it actually is.

Step Two: Anger

This is the stage where you’re fully aware how much work you have and now you’re angry about it. You may ask yourself, “Why do I have so much work?”  “How can I possibly write six pages about that topic?” “I thought college was supposed to be fun!” Cursing may also be involved.

Step Three: Bargaining

This is the stage where you’re trying to regain control over the situation. You know you need to do your homework; sitting around denying it or being angry about it isn’t going to help. But you’re not completely ready to sit down and do all of it. This is the stage where you make compromises. You may find yourself saying, “I’ll do half of it now and then half of it in the morning,” or “I can watch this episode on Netflix first. Only one episode and then I’ll sit down and write that paper.”

Step Four: Depression

This is the bottom of the pit. We’ve all been here. This is where the tears are shed because it’s 2 AM and that paper is still not done. This is where you reach for the Ben & Jerry’s because sometimes drowning your stress in ice cream will help temporarily.

Step Five: Acceptance

This is the enlightenment. This is when you realize that neither tears nor anger nor procrastination will help you get your work done. This stage usually goes one of two ways. You either 1) sit down with some form of caffeine (or none at all if you’re good at just running on adrenaline) and actually crank out what you’re supposed to do or 2) you just accept that you’re not going to get it done and hope you’ll be able to deal with the consequences. Either way, you’ve reached the acceptance part of procrastination.

Congratulations, you’re now an expert in the five stages of stress and procrastination. Now maybe you’ll be able to skip steps one through four and just get straight to acceptance next time (probably not though. I procrastinated writing this very blog post.)

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