Fire Break: Expectation vs. Reality

UCT students vs the procrastination trap amidst #UCTFires tragedy



By Josh Raynham 

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY News.

The tragedy that was the Table Mountain fire, which gutted the Jagger Reading Room and destroyed parts of the Plant Conservation Unit offices, was an event that no one saw coming. Now I know what many of you are thinking, “I was so close to getting that automatic pass”. Whilst the idea that the ‘university burning down means you get a free degree’ is a blatant mistruth, what we students were given was a free week off. For the many students who were displaced, this was a week to gather their minds, belongings and try to make some sense out of what had just happened. For the rest of us, however, we had a choice: go to the beach, and soak up the last bit of summer sun, or catch up on that work we so desperately needed to get finished. I can tell you now, I am feeling sun-kissed. 



Now the problem which many of us feel is that whilst the beach does sound like the better option, we all know that our essays are not going to write themselves. We can deliberate between the idea of treating ourselves to a restful day at the beach, or completing that essay, for hours, but the point of the matter is, even amidst all that deliberation, we have fallen into that very trap so many of us have fallen into before: the procrastination trap. The good news, however, is that you are not alone. I can tell you for a fact that even whilst writing this, I too would sit back daydreaming and twiddling my thumbs. 


The thing is, you should not feel bad about this, because everyone does it. The main aim is understanding and accepting it. To begin with, procrastination and laziness are two very different things. Procrastination involves the ‘art’ of delaying an important task by focusing on a less urgent task, often one that seems more enjoyable and easier, and is due in three weeks. It’s an active process where you choose to do something else – but at least you are doing something. Laziness on the other hand is the unwillingness to act. 


Now for some people with underlying health issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), procrastination can often happen unwillingly rather than being just a bad habit. For the most part, however, any neurotypical person pulling into the procrastination station should be able to hop onto the next train out. 


The main aim when combating procrastination is realizing you are doing it. From there onwards, you can identify the reasons for your behaviour and search for appropriate strategies to manage and overcome it. There are hundreds of sites and papers out there written by people who have felt the same as you. Most importantly, forgive yourself for Pete’s sake. Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future. Anxiety and stress at university are at a constant high. So, take that beach day, but remember, you are not going to get anywhere in life without a bit of work, so maybe write a paragraph or two of that essay first. 


Here are two links I thought might be helpful.


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