The Day Before

Short film about procrastination.
Master’s Project at MDX, London


A film about not making a film. Written, produced, directed, illustrated, animated, narrated and edited by DW.

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Devoting not only a little over an entire year but even a Masters Project to procrastination seems some how ironic. It is. Just like the subject itself: Going to University to study and learn, but at the same time neither wanting to study nor learn. So how do you make a project about not making a project? The course requirement was to choose and solve any given problem through design. An area that seemed to be extensive enough for a one-year project and interested me right from the beginning, was the human mind, and the process of decision making. I felt that the quality and potential of this project would be determined by the depth of research, which meant I really needed to study procrastination, in order to get to the core of it.

Procrastinators aren't significantly lazier than others, as they intend to get their work done just as everybody else. The difference is, it is harder for them to manage time, be sensitive to delay, and resist the temptation of short-time pleasures. What enables their impulsiveness in the first place is a simple emotional reaction. Procrastinators tend to put off things that are unpleasant, threatening, frustrating or just uncomfortable. This could come out of fear of failure, criticism, rejection, tension or disapproval. So they give in to total diversion to assuage their guilt and anxiety, burrowing deeper into distractions to dodge these emotions, resulting in immediate relief. However just for a short time.

In my research, I have looked at numerous self-help books, and countless websites addressing the phenomenon of putting off. However, I found that all provided solutions to overcome procrastination were a step ahead of the real problem. The vast majority deals with ways to make work more enjoyable, taking different attempts into consideration, providing a range of action possibilities. The problem with procrastination however is not the lack of ideas, but the unconscious decision to defer, due to negative emotions. So using an application, doing a course about how to get organized, or reading self-help books, won't even help much, as it equals getting involved with the project — which is the very thing they put off in the first place.

Concluding that the core sense of putting off, is based on an impulse, resulting in a defence mechanism to avoid displeasure, I set the focus of my project on information. Understanding the process behind inaction is the first step to improvement. Hereby I intend to raise an awareness and recognition of procrastination-thinking, to let the recipient go from an unconscious to a conscious decision, weather to put off or not.

If you procrastinate, I don't mind. But do it consciously. And enjoy it.

I am dedicating this project to my parents, who are not procrastinators but made it possible for me to live and study in London.