Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Art of Procrastination Again

One of the reasons for my writing silence of late is that I am trying to psych myself up to prepare for my fellowship exams come next August. In all that time of psyching myself up, I have:

1) Bought the required books, which are serving as very useful paperweights at the moment
2) Colour coordinated my wardrobe according to the rainbow (including underwear and socks)
3) Rearranged all the files and folders on my laptop in alphabetical order
4) Baked up a storm (oh wait, that's Karen)
5) Decided to write this blog instead

Now August might seem like months away, but these are major exams and they require consistent hard work and discipline, both of which I haven't really trained myself for growing up.

I used to be that annoying kid in primary school and high school who would do well academically by cramming for exams a few days before. Yes I would complete my homework daily, but school was so filled with extra-curricular activities and distractions that I barely got any studying done.

All the requisite studying would be saved for the few days before the exams, where the midnight oil was so consumed I had to source for an alternative fuel. Couple that with the fervent prayer that can only precede public school exams (and stapling fifty dollar notes to exam papers *winkwinknudgenudge*), somehow I managed to do well enough both in primary and high school.

Those who know me know that I do not say this boastfully, but rather to reflect on where my habits today have come from.

My ease of passage through primary school and high school soon unraveled when I went to do my college years in Singapore. Suddenly the bright hope of Methodist Boys' School KL became evidently quite dim and mediocre amongst the ocean of academic talent and sheer hard work that is Singapore.

It was a remarkably humbling time for me and one would have thought that it would have spurred me on to a life of discipline and concentration.

Instead, some habits die hard, and once again, I find myself procrastinating whenever I have to prepare for an exam.

I sometimes look at Karen with envy when she studies. She has the ability to sit down at a table for hours and focus on the subject at hand intently. Yes, she can break for the occasional bout of silly madness which I impose on her, but then it's straight back to the task at hand.

On the other hand, I am as distractable as a puppy with ADHD that has just been let loose into an open field and I don't know which butterfly to chase first. Everything else will take priority - the garden is suddenly trimmed, the laundry done, the wardrobe rearranged, the dishes washed, the house cleaned, and then I can sit at the table to start studying.

And then I open the laptop.

Suddenly I have all these e-mails to reply and spam to clear, and an entire cyberspace filled with soccer news, funny pictures of cute animals to be ogled at, random videos to be watched, motivational articles to be read (ie. 10 Steps to Quit Procrastinating Now), Facebook status updates to be liked and commented on, and it needs to be all done first.

The best motivation I have going for me at the moment is that what I am studying for is extremely relevant to my line of work, and that has kept me going. Passing the exams is less of an incentive to me than becoming a better doctor.

Perhaps that is the true cure for procrastination - having the right motivation.

All right, I am going to take my own advice now and head back to my books.

After some relaxing Youtube videos first, of course.

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