Now that people world-wide have their own personal computers, cell phones, access to the internet and video games of every variety, procrastination has arisen as a top cause of stress in our lives. I’m no exception. It’s difficult even for me to open up a Word document and start writing an Economics essay when I have a whole world of information, games, and social connections at my fingertips.
We come in many forms (we’re a highly evolved breed!) ranging from those who simply seek the excitement of working under pressure to those who refuse to make decisions as a way to avoid responsibility for the outcome of a task.
Psychologists believe procrastination has three recognizable traits: the task must be counter-productive, delaying, and needless.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Sometimes, when I think of writing my weekly essay, my stomach ties in a knot. I worry about how long it will take and if I’ll write it well. Then I think of everything else I could be doing instead of writing this paper. Important tasks we do not do daily usually come with some kind of anxiety when starting or finishing. Psychologists believe procrastination is a coping mechanism for this anxiety. It is a fear of failure. Maybe even a fear of success.
Checking your email while there’s a report to be written or a room to be cleaned is the perfect example of procrastination. We actively look for distractions that don’t require much thought. Television is also another enabler. Procrastinators yearn for this distraction to normalize their feelings of anxiety.
How does it start?
Some procrastinators come from strict parents. Having parents who control everything will lessen a child’s ability to regulate his or her self in the future. It can even be a form of rebellion! Conversely, parents who procrastinate, do their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, and don’t pay their bills on time can rub-off on children as well.
Why is it so bad?
Speaking from personal experience alone, I have spent long and sleepless nights writing papers or completing entire projects I pushed until the very end. Just recently I put off my entire English portfolio until a FEW HOURS before it was due, and instead of an easy “A”, I received a “C” for the class. My work was not up to its potential had I have given it time. Getting no sleep can also affect your immune system and you’ll get sick easier and feel groggy. It’s obvious what kind of affect it can have on your grades. Just think what path my life would be heading down if I did this for every class and every assignment! These affects only get worse over time.
How do we stop?
People all around have published countless strategies to banish this bad behavior and different people call for different strategies. I implore you to visit some of my favorite webpages of ways to quit procrastinating and find one that fits you best!
- Psych Central’s Getting Help for Procrastination
- ZenHabit’s Dead Simple Guide to Beating Procrastination
- Steve Pavlina’s Overcoming Procrastination
- Procrastination Help and Tips to Stop from Jullien Gordon at Driving School For Life
These are just few of many different ways to overcome procrastination and to finally make time your friend. Many books, essays, articles, and pamphlets have been published on the matter. Keep searching until you find a solution that fits you!