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#56 Procrastination

Posted April 9th, 2008 by Chan · 20 Comments

Maybe it’s appropriate that it took so long to write this article; or, there were just more important things to do. Regardless, people everywhere know that asians love to procrastinate. The reasons for this phenomenon can be traced thousands of years back to ancient China.

As the ancient world was a dangerous place, China’s first ruler thought it would be great to build a big wall to ward off an invasion by outside forces or a second encroachment on Mother China by the unwieldy northern glaciers. Glaciers have never again threatened China, but after a while the invaders decided to go around the wall, which caused a lot of problems.

This ruler unlocked an ancient Chinese secret: a great way to motivate the masses to work is to hold before them the threat of very severe punishment. Such an enlightened perspective is embodied presently in punishments ranging from Singapore gum-chewing fines to ‘the asian stare” of perturbed Asian parents.

Some might see this as ‘cruel” or ‘over the top”, but one only needs to respond to such absurd accusations with a simple question- ‘Where’s America’s Great Wall?”. The answer is that America doesn’t have a great wall on ANY of her borders, despite the presence of a curious and largely French-speaking nation to the North and an industrious, hardworking emerging power to the South. To be sure, some Americans have begun to wake to the growing threat of invasion and are pushing for a wall of sorts along the shorter border. Although modern technology enables such a wall to be built much easier than China’s big wall, the capitalists have as of yet failed to make any real progress.

I digress… Maybe I should stop procrastinating and finally get to the point.

Although threat of death or severe punishment has proven effective, there are some instances in which it is not desirable. Consider, for instance, so-called self-motivated Asian students. In this case, the student is reasonably independent or is perhaps supported by lenient parents that allow A- or an occasional B+ in non-core classes. Yet, they still feel a need to perform beyond the level needed to survive. How can a student do this, you might ask? How is it that threat of severe harm is the best way to motivate a student, but some students are highly motivated even if they are likely free from said threat?

The answer to this ancient paradox is the finely-cultivated art of procrastination. The student must develop throughout the high-school years the ability to masterfully time assignments to allow the absolute minimum amount of time between beginning the assignment and the actual due date. After the student has developed a deep connection with their inner ability to BS (build sentences) and/or memorize loads of information on the spot, he or she can begin to reasonably time stints of procrastination to maximize academic yield.

Once the asian student learns to time it properly, he or she can be reasonably sure that they will suffer an immensely disappointing mark if they don’t exert all their effort in the final hour. If they begin too early, they will have too much time to complete the assignment and lack necessary motivation for over-achievement (instead merely achieving). If they begin too late, they will fail and their most terrible fears will most certainly befall them. It is within this perfect window of opportunity, however, that an asian can garner sufficient threat of severe harm to motivate him or her toward feats of greatness.

Among Asian crowds, it is considered acceptable to mention casually how ‘stressed-out” you are, thus demonstrating your faithful cultivation of this ancient art. If you say it too much, though, people will be sure to think that you’re minimizing their own ability to procrastinate, which is poor form.

Caucasians even began to practice this art in the “˜60′s as other eastern influences such as yoga and kung-fu grew in popularity. Over the years, both ethnic groups have used this common bond to facilitate social exchange and it is now often common to come across a bi-racial enclave commiserating on their busy schedules and such. In such instances, the passer-by should respectfully comment how ‘hardworking and ambitious” the parties are. This will make the procrastinators feel affirmed and admired, despite their clear inability to work diligently to accomplish simple tasks. Such a comment has in many cases opened the door for a beautiful and long-lasting friendship.

Tags: Activities · Chores · Culture · Customs · Environment · Habits · Hobbies · People · Relationships · Social · Superstition · Work

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 VeryTallAzn // Apr 10, 2008 at 6:40 am

    It plagues us all sadly…

    No matter how life alternating it is, I always do everything at the last minute. Haha

  • 2 VeryTallAzn // Apr 10, 2008 at 6:42 am

    altering*, not alternating.

    See, spell check at the last minute. =(

  • 3 Paula Yoo // Apr 10, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    OMG, did you know me in high school? And college? And right now? This column exposed all my dirty secrets of procrastination… brilliant! :)

  • 4 Genesis // Apr 11, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I would have thought that this article was written about me. >.<

  • 5 solong // Apr 11, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    LOL this whole thing applies to me…

    I know exactly when I should finally get my butt working on my AP homework ;)

  • 6 helrokitty // Apr 20, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    This is me completely! You wrote this about me didnt you?…I can say I have masterfully procastination, I always get my work done, and always go beyong what im supposed to do. If the paper should be 2 pages, I will do 3. But I can say that I procrastinate so well, that I crave the stress so much, that its like a drug. Sometimes I wont start a paper till 10pm and work till 5am to complete, but the paper is usually fantastic, and always done on time. perfect job, just like me.

  • 7 Shyulace // May 7, 2008 at 8:04 am

    I’m suffering from procrastination as we speak :P

  • 8 Nathan // Sep 3, 2008 at 12:12 am

    “despite the presence of a curious and largely French-speaking nation to the North”

    French is only spoken by 22.7% of the Canadian population. English is still spoken an overwhelming majority.


  • 9 Therese // Sep 11, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I always thought BS meant bullshit
    Though I suppose ‘bullshit’ and ‘build sentences’ essentially present the same message.

  • 10 Ming // Nov 30, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Oh, wow. You just wrote down my life philosophy.
    (Philosophy: also something we Asians dearly love.)
    I’m a stress-junkie. Sleep is for wimps.

  • 11 Miss Ma // Dec 6, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Haha, I’m procrastinating on chem and my ap hw as I read this article.

  • 12 Dan Kim // Jan 29, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I live by the belief of structured procrastination. Great essay:

  • 13 #116 Not Eating Chinese Food « Stuff Asian People Like - Asian Central // May 5, 2009 at 12:15 am

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  • 14 haha // Sep 1, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    omg that is exactly how i am with my school work!!! i had this health project that the teacher gave us two weeks to do and i did it in like half an hour (fifteen minutes to print out pics from the internet, then to write stuff down on the paper, and five to glue the pictures down!) and the teacher loved it…hehe….whereas the person sitting next to me was complaining to her friend how she spent two days on it and she only got a B. anyway, i think asians are just more creative then americans so they can bs so much stuff at the last minute!
    oh! or maybe it’s because we want to “save face” that we procrastinated so long and it would be so embarassing to not do a project and have everyone know you didn’t do it that we are so got at last minute work!

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  • 18 Rachel // Jun 1, 2011 at 6:37 am

    :O Traitor! You exposed our Asian secret!

    …Maybe not, but still! This is exactly what we all do, despite not being conscious of it. In fact, I’m doing it right now without knowing.

  • 19 Luyen // Dec 6, 2011 at 12:28 am

    hahahah this is so true. Writing a 5 page paper right now for english 100 while reading this. I had a month to do it, just now started!

  • 20 Mr. Duby // Apr 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Well, F you Managerial Accounting! lol

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