The Blue and Gold

Prevention of Procrastination

Today's the day you stop putting things off for tomorrow.

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Prevention of Procrastination

Nadia Memari, Editor

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It’s been one week since your science teacher assigned you that major human anatomy project, and you still haven’t begun to work on it. Not even a scribble is written on your paper, yet somehow, you manage to remain calm and collected – or at least attempt to as you continuously deny the fact that you barely have any time left. Surely, you will successfully complete five paragraphs and a detailed illustration in the four hours you have left, right? Heck, why don’t you just wait another hour until you aren’t as busy – busy, as in browsing the internet all day looking at cat pictures to try to lift the burden of stress. Deep inside, you know this is a foolish idea. Deep inside, you regret it from the start. And now, you’re trying to get rid of that regret by laughing at Grumpy Cat.

 

But what can you do? It’s just the cycle of procrastination, and you’re stuck in it with the lack of motivation to get out. Like a five year old on a carousel, you can get out anytime – but the thrill of it all is just too addictive. Why would you get out? You could just stay there forever. Of course, you have to pay the price for every ride.

 

Actually, there are many things you can do.

 

What Is Procrastination?

 

Procrastination, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “the act of delaying or postponing something,” whatever it may be. Usually, the postponed task is something the procrastinator does not take pleasure in completing, and would rather save for later to make room for more pleasurable, but less urgent or unnecessary tasks – like saving your math homework for later so you have time to play video games. If a behaviour was to be considered procrastination, it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying. Most oftenly, it causes stress, guilt, and disapproval from others – which, in the end, can result in even more delaying. For some, the anxiety caused by this behaviour may even motivate them to initiate action for tasks, however, this is frequently followed by attempts to rationalize the delay, which encourages the same type of behavior from the procrastinators. While this phenomenon does seem normal, it can actually be very damaging. Not only could it affect your grades and work quality, but can also lead to financial loss, a worsened immune system, insomnia, and negative impacts on relationships. The habit of procrastination can seem like a never-ending cycle – which you would try to break free from, if you weren’t planning on doing that later.

 

How Common Is Procrastination?

 

Procrastination – It’s a terrible habit, yet a common human tendency. Even pigeons and lab monkeys have been observed to procrastinate! And although many believe it to be a modern phenomenon, only present during the age of the internet, this type of behaviour has always been present – Even Mozart struggled with procrastination, as he wrote the overture to Don Giovanni just the morning it premiered! Around 20% of adults claim to be chronic procrastinators, which is a rather high percentage, but nothing compared to the amount of students who procrastinate regularly – A shocking 85-95%. And the percentages only seems to be growing higher as time passes by, as in 1978, only 5% of adults had issues with this habit. 40% of adults claim to have experienced financial loss due to this, too, with $473 million lost because of procrastination in the U.S., just in 2008.

 

Why Do We Procrastinate?

 

There are quite a few causes for the habit of procrastination – the fear of failure, excessive perfectionism, the thrill of the euphoric rush, indecision, low energy levels, no motivation, or a lack of focus. Sometimes, procrastination can be a sign of an underlying mental disorder, or even multiple. It is commonly linked to depression, low self-esteem, inadequacy, guilt, impulsiveness, and anxiety; however, anxiety is just as likely to encourage one to begin work ahead of time. Of course, the behaviour is only linked to mental disorders in some cases. Falsely believed to be a problem of time management and planning, procrastination is actually an issue with self-regulation: “the fact of something such as an organization regulating itself without intervention from external bodies.” In reality, procrastinators estimate time just as most people do, although they are more optimistic. It is believed that the reason procrastination is more common in the United States than in other countries is because we don’t often call people on their excuses, (“my grandpa had a stroke”) even when they are almost unbelievable.

 

How Can I Stop Procrastinating?

 

Let’s face it, you’ve procrastinated before – but are does that make you a procrastinator?  As mentioned previously, all humans have engaged in this counterproductive behaviour before, but not everybody would consider themselves procrastinators. If you procrastinate regularly, and it affects the quality of your work and life in general, then your habit is more serious, and it is worth an attempt to change your behaviour. If you are a chronic procrastinator, then it is crucial as a first step to identify the reason why you procrastinate. If you are not motivated to complete the assignment, then find the reason behind it. Could it be that you just don’t know where or how to begin? Could it be that it is too boring or difficult? If this is the case, then breaking the project down into smaller chunks may be a useful strategy for you. If you’re worried about where to begin – then don’t. Has starting a task really ever been so bad once you’ve done it? It may seem confusing and dreadful, but trust me, by starting it now, you will relieve the stress you’ve been feeling – and finally, you can browse the internet in peace, without trying to bury the crippling weight of stress and guilt into the back of your mind.  But, if this is a fear of failure or of making a mistake, then you just need to know – Mistakes are lessons. We all make them. Will a B+ on your middle school assignment really affect you in five years? What’s the worst that could happen? Are your thoughts factual or merely pessimistic interpretations? To perfect the act of preventing perfectionism, you need to give yourself occasional reality checks. Ask yourself those questions. Be the source of your own assurance, and don’t depend on others for positive enforcement. Another habit you can practice that might help end procrastination is simply announcing to the people around you what task you are planning on completing – Instead of mentally assuring yourself that you will write an essay by the end of a certain date, inform your parents or friends about it, too. You can even write it down, in addition to that. Of course, this requires bravery and confidence, but it is a good indication of your actual dedication. To stop the terrible habit of procrastination and finally step off the carousel, all it takes is enough motivation.

 

You can do it. Stop playing video games. Stop watching YouTube videos. Stop laughing at Grumpy Cat. Just start the project.

 

 

Sources :

http://time.com/5322514/stop-procrastinating-tips/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrastination

http://mentalfloss.com/article/63887/procrastination-through-ages-brief-history-wasting-time

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-stop-procrastination-3144474

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/causes-of-procrastination/

http://thebrainflux.com/7-causes-procrastination-revealed-research/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/63887/procrastination-through-ages-brief-history-wasting-time

 

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