Definition Essay – Kevin Buttari

Over time, the definition of procrastination has become skewed and vague, and, unfortunately, not many people or sources can provide a definitive definition for the word.  The following hypothetical situation can provide a good example of the two opposite sides of procrastination:  Two students had put off doing an essay until the day it is due.  The first student had been doing smaller, less important tasks (checking grades, planning for the rest of the week, etc.) without putting much direct thought into completing the essay.  The second had sat down with the intention to write multiple times, but never got past typing his name on the paper without switching over to Facebook and giving up.  The first student waited until he had just enough time to write, proof-read, and edit his paper.  The second didn’t think he’d have enough time and decided not to do it.  While it is apparent that both students put off doing their essays, did either of them actually procrastinate?  The first student put off his paper until the latest possible time, which means he clearly procrastinated if it took him that long to do it, right?  However, since he was doing other relatively important things, an argument could be made that since he was still working (even though it was on different, probably less important tasks), he wasn’t procrastinating because was still actually doing something.  The second student could be considered not procrastinating because procrastination can be substituted with “put off” or “delayed”, which both imply that the assignment would at some point be completed (or at least started).

The two students did in fact both procrastinate.  The reason it seems so different is because it was.  Procrastination is broken up into two categories; active and passive.  Active procrastination (what the first student used for his essay) is the systematic delay of a task.  It allows the procrastinator to manage his time by putting off things that don’t need to be done right away (the essay) in order to do other quicker, or more enjoyable things (checking grades, planning, etc.).  It is a fantastic way to take in all the benefits of procrastination.  Passive procrastination (what the second student employed) is, more or less, the act of blindly saying “screw it, I’ll do it later”.  Unlike active procrastination, passive procrastination doesn’t use much, or any time management.  For example; an active procrastinator would make sure he has enough time between when he starts his essay and when it is due.  A passive procrastinator will just lazily put an assignment off without regarding how much time is left to complete said assignment.  Active procrastinators typically won’t encounter as much stress as passive procrastinators because there will already be time set aside to worry about, and complete the assignment, while passive procrastinators can begin to get stressed out over the work looming over their heads.

The big thing that separates procrastination from “put off” and “delay” is time.  Procrastination involves the delaying of a timed task until the latest possible time within the given timeframe.  While something can be put off indefinitely, procrastination has a set deadline for when a task can totally lose its relevance.  For example; I’ve been telling my self I’d go running for some time now.  I’ve been blowing it off for weeks by not doing it, and I’ve postponed it by telling my self “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, but I haven’t been procrastinating because there is no set time or date. I just haven’t been doing it out of laziness.  That is what really sets the word procrastination apart.

Sources:

1- http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/procrastinate

2- http://thesaurus.com/browse/put%20off

3- http://www.alternet.org/story/156120/the_secret_benefits_of_procrastination?page=0%2C1

4- http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2010/01/procrastination.aspx

5- Excessive personal experience as both an active, and passive procrastinator

6- http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/postpone

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3 Responses to Definition Essay – Kevin Buttari

  1. kovnat77 says:

    For a procrastinator, I’m thoroughly impressed you got all of this done.

  2. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Kevin! You may recall I write comments as I read your essay, so you’ll get the “live” reaction of one reader to your argument as it unfolds.

    P1. I’ve probably read too many college essay to appreciate this approach any longer, Kevin, so maybe this is prejudice, but I really hate the “Webster’s defines” opening gambit, about as much as I hate the “means different things to different people” opening.

    I wouldn’t savagely attack your first paragraph if I had never warned you against it, but I did warn against it, and against using dictionaries as source materials, so I feel partly justified. I do still apologize for being categorical and harsh—absolutely any essay technique can be used successfully, however trite it may seem—so please don’t take this personally. But do revise the heck out of this paragraph if you like grades.

    The example is the better place to start. Don’t say it provides alternative definitions. Your job is to provide the clarity the world does not. One of these things is procrastination. The other is productive multitasking, or something. Who cares what other people call procrastination? We know that already. Redefine the term for us in a refreshing way and ignore those wrongheaded people.

    I do admire the way you snuck in your reference to Merriam-Webster here, Kevin. (As I said, even the most tired technique can be effective).

    We don’t use footnotes in Comp 2. Just an informal citation that names the publication, as yours already does, is sufficient. We’ll find the source for ourselves in the Works Cited.

    Replace the Rhetorical Question with a bold clear claim. When? Always.

    Do not “complicate things just a little bit more.” When? Ever. Clarify instead.

    Don’t save much from the last few sentences, Kevin. They’re a mess (and they Fail for Grammar Rule 4).

    That first student did something. Tell us what he did. Tell us whether it’s procrastination or not. If it is, tell us he’s not ashamed of it and we shouldn’t be either. Tell us why procrastination is good and stop asking us questions. Your job is to answer, not ask.

    P2. The deadline point is fantastic, but you “put it off” for two sentences before you get to it. Not effective. Tighten this up.

    The running (more accurately the not running) illustration is also very nice. It’s also a perfectly good example of why I don’t ban the first person. But it does Fail for Grammar Rule 7.)

    Start a new paragraph with a much better transition than: Now would be a good time to get specific. How? Consider jumping to the next paragraph with: My decision (if I can call it that) not to run is an example of passive procrastination . . . (or active; you’re the expert). Much better, right?

    Fails again for Rule 7.

    P3. Which brings me to another recommendation. Why not identify (in your title for example) that you advocate the benefits of Active Procrastination? Then you can avoid all that sloppy “people mean different things” language and make your argument clear up front in just two words? Use your introduction to promote the stress-relieving benefits or compare those two students with labels attached. There’s no value in delaying these simple revelations; the sooner we know what you’re up to here, the more we can participate.

    P3. Write shorter paragraphs. This one’s fine, but I realize it’s only the 3rd and I’ve read at least 5 paragraphs worth of argument. Find the natural transitions in your longer paragraphs and make a break. Those breaks give you chances for brilliant transitions.

    No no no no no. We don’t need a universal definition of procrastination. The value of your essay is in promoting a particular type (specific not general; not universal but local) of useful, admirable procrastination. Don’t backslide and obfuscate. Clarify.

    The other “definitions” are bastards. The one true definition is the inevitable result of your careful observations. Share it.

    Earlier I exempted you to use the first person. Here I forbid it. You may not say “I believe.” Ever.

    I see now why your sources are all reference material types. You haven’t provided any scholarly background at all for this short argument. I don’t want you to force the scholarship on an essay that doesn’t need it, so this may not be the place for good references, but remember this is a research paper. Your long argument will need to prove you’ve done some research.

    You have a nice style, Kevin, and I sense you’re enjoying this project. Put off the research aspect as long as you need to, but don’t neglect it in the end. It would be a shame to short-change this entertaining argument by depending too much on your own reasoning.

  3. kmbuttari says:

    And I need a regrade on this.

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