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The Fine Art of Procrastination, Teen Style


The inclination to put things off comes naturally to many of us, particularly when we have to do homework, or mow the lawn, or wash the dog. For some, the desire to postpone the routine burdens of life presents its own challenge.

Teenager David Barber-Callaghan believes he has perfected the art of procrastination. He sent this audio essay.

Mr. DAVID BARBER-CALLAGHAN (Commentator, Portland, Oregon): (Speaking in his video essay) For me, the weekend is a chance to take life at a slower pace, lounge about, watch TV and play the guitar. It would be perfect, but an annoying question arises each weekend that jars me from my carefree world.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN (David's Father): David, do you have any homework left to do?

Mr. BARBER-CALLAGHAN: You see? Every Friday after school I have a brief discussion with my father about when I'm going to attack the mountains of homework that my teachers have thoughtfully assigned me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, I think that, ideally, it's good to get your homework done as fast as possible.

Mr. BARBER-CALLAGHAN: On the other hand, I think that Sunday afternoon is a great time to start my homework. I'd like not to think of the negative aspects of school till the last possible minute.

My dad's probably right, that it would be better for me not to procrastinate. But I think that I'm old enough to decide when I want to do my homework. Also, I get my work done on time and enjoy my weekends.

Hey, if ain't broke, don't fix it.

DAVID'S FATHER: There's one notorious episode where you had the science project, and lo and behold, this project materializes on a Sunday afternoon.

Mr. BARBER-CALLAGHAN: Okay, okay, so there was this one weekend where I had several hours of homework. But I didn't do my homework when I got home at noon on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That was a bit of a shock, I think that it was a bit of shock even to you, to realize that there was so much work to be done, at the last minute.

Mr. BARBER-CALLAGHAN: I admit, I could barely manage all the work. But I got an A on the homework, so I went right back to procrastination the next weekend.

For NPR News, I'm David Barber-Callaghan.

HANSEN: When he gets around to it, David Barber-Callaghan is a commentator with Blunt Radio in Portland, Maine. His story was a co-production with Youth Radio in Berkeley, California. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Barber-Callaghan