I almost finished my thought there, but I got distracted by my sock drawer. You caught me. I am an extreme procrastinator.
I find procrastination excruciatingly painful yet gloriously exhilarating. It is the closest I have come to the sublime in my law school experience. And, each day that graduation comes closer, I feel a sense of urgency. Not to study for exams and write papers ahead of time but to procrastinate far beyond my wildest dreams.
However, here, I feel it is my duty to stop celebrating what I see as the awesome, slacker life and instead debunk some myths about the evils of procrastination.
Procrastination is often described as some sort of obstacle, a bad habit, and even a psychological problem. I disagree. While I don’t think procastination is an art to be mastered, I do think it is a skill to be honed. At least as a law student procrastinator, I believe wholeheartedly that procrastinators can be the best workers out there.
Because, through my observations at the workplace, many of the non-procrastinating Gunners have the hardest time transitioning into work mode. The non-procrastinating Gunners who get the top grades at law school and trample other students along the way tend to lack the efficiency, harmony, and balance to succeed in the real world. These slow-paced, library-land-locked subjects usually present two traits: (1) a slow rate of work and (2) a higher risk of burn out.
Law student procrastinators, on the other hand, tend to be able to get the job done in a short period of time. They may leave it to the last minute, but this constant procrastination has made them experts under pressure situations. Instead of churning their wheels, like one of the worst kind of Gunners (the semi-smart Gunner who combines workaholism with ego-stroking), law student procrastinators experience large spans of time when they’re doing many things (perhaps not the thing they’re supposed to do), but many things. And, then when push comes to shove and deadlines hit, the law school procrastinator becomes a Phoenix rising, a super nova, and boom! The memo’s complete.
Law student procrastinators with good people skills carry a distinct advantage in the workplace. First, they have honed a variety of “soft skills” through the many social activities they attended and hosted while procrastinating. Second, they have developed a particularly strong immune system for handling stress – their own personal panic proof vest. This allows them to react calmly and effectively when something explodes at work: “Memo on my desk in 2 hours!”
When the semi-smartm non-procrsatinating Gunner, who relied on hours spent in the library, first gets their pile of assignments at work, it induces hyperventilating and thoughts of “AHHHHHH, followed by AHHHHH, then with more GAAAAAH, because usually I spend weeks preparing, writing, and editing and tabbing.” The law student procrastinator, on the other hand, recalls that 25 page paper from 2L year due at the end of the semester, and remembers the agony and adrenaline of researching and writing that sucker in two days. (Yes, and he still got a glowing recommendation from his professor.) For the skilled law student procrastinator, the “on my desk in 2 hours!” memo is just business as usual.
In an interview setting, however, it becomes a tad bit difficult to explain the many benefits of procrastination:
Q: What’s your greatest strength and weakness?
A: I’d say my greatest strength is that I’m a procrastinator, and my greatest weakness is that I just work too hard at procrastinating.
(Not so much?)
Also, the law student procrastinator’s Achille’s heel usually comes in the form of having way too much time to get something done. For instance, the exam at the end of the semester or the final paper due on the last day of exams. Luckily, in the work place, either your boss or client will be nipping at your heels constantly. You soon will notice that you have twenty deadlines in a row! Sure, you may find a way to procrastinate a few minutes here and there, but by the time you finish one assignment, you’re onto the next, and the next, and the next. Luckily, you’re used to this kind of pressure and workload. You’ve been training for this your entire law student procrastinator life!
(…singing Eye of the Tiger under your breath as you dominate at work…)
So, my procrastinating comrades, please do let me know how your experiences are after you start work:
- Do you think you’re at an advantage or disadvantage having honed your procrastinating skills during law school?
- Do you notice the meticulously, hardworking Gunners falling behind, because they suddenly realize they have no people skills and also don’t know how to work under pressure?
If the answers are yes, then you’ll have provided additional evidence to support my “Law Student Procrastinator is Highly Underrated” hypothesis.
And this forms a part of a larger, more serious question about the connection between “law school performance” (aka breaking the curve) and success at the work place (fitting in and succeeding in different work cultures and environments for more than just 1-3 years):
(1) Are law schools and employers really focusing on the right kinds of skills to be successful?
(2) If you were a client, stuck on a desert island filled with litigious beasts, would you rather have a lawyer who can get the job done in time, communicates well with you, and knows how to be quick on his feet, or would you rather interact with a Gunner who has spent the better part of the past three years studying useless cases, cite checking, and outlining?
To be continued (when I’m not procrastinating)…