Procrastination and the 80/20 Principle

My name is Danielle Koepke. I am 23 years old and graduated from Marquette University in 2013 with a degree in Writing Intensive English. I am married and have two daughters. My husband is an active duty Marine. I choose to stay at home and do my writing from there. I write both fiction and nonfiction, as well as work on my own writing. I love to be active and enjoy all sports, as well as reading and playing the piano.

Have an assignment due in the next month, week, or day? Will you start working on it right now, or in the last hours before it is due? If you are anything like me, you will wait until the last minute to start working on it. Procrastination gets us all, whether its because you have too many other things you have to do or too many other things you want to do. Whether you make a list and have good intentions to get it all done with plenty of time to spare, or you don’t even bother, we all fall behind at some point.

Want to hear the good news? Procrastination is not a bad thing! There have actually been studies done that show that people working under pressure produce better work. When the clock is ticking nearer to class time, you suddenly find an inspiration that wasn’t there two weeks ago when the assignment is given. Working in this small window of time, many students find they produced a product they they are actually proud of. They had to go with their gut, spit it out, trust their instinct, etc.

You’re probably reading this thinking, honestly this is not too helpful. I already procrastinate! So where’s the catch? Where’s the advice?

Its in the 80/20 principle, also known as Pareto’s principle. The first use of this principle was to show that 80% of the wealth in a country comes from 20% of its people. But the principle works in almost every area of life. For example, most businesses have found that 80% of their revenue comes from 20% of their customers. Or, in the case of your studies, 80% of your work is done in 20% of the time alotted. Think about it. You have an exam tomorrow. You’ve known about it for weeks. But until tonight, you didn’t even open you books. Now, you burn the midnight oil cramming before the test. Or maybe you have a paper that you had made an outline for, but never finished. Now the paper is due by next class and you are typing away, pretending to take notes when really you are finalizing your paper.

HERE is where the help comes in: next time you get an assignment, make the due date sooner than it actually is. If it means writing it in your calendar that way, do it! Give yourself TIME TO PROCRASTINATE. Set in your mind that your paper is due one day before it actually is, and hold to it. That way, you will do 80% of the work in 20% of the time, and still have an extra day to look it over. Now, this only works if you choose to make it work. It will allow you to have the inspiration that comes from waiting till the last minute, without being last minute. It will also very likely increase your grades. Seriously. Try it with your next assignments, and see if it relieves some stress for you.

Procrastinators unite! (tomorrow)

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