Posted July 15, 2013on:
An English actor, Christopher Parker said and I quote, ”Procrastination is like a credit card, it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” Procrastination is simply the act of replacing high priority tasks with low priority tasks. Procrastination has, at times, affected my productivity. So, I took time and effort to understand what it means to be a procrastinator and how one could stop doing that. So, I’ll be ranting here as to what strategies have personally worked out for me during past few years. Procrastination takes a heavy toll on our success and is one of the most common problems faced by college students.
First we need to analyze why procrastination is a problem. Is delaying your tasks always a bad thing to do? After all, we often postpone our work until tomorrow when we can actually do it today. As a matter of fact, we need to establish thresholds. A delay does not always count as procrastination unless it is irrational and intentional.
Procrastination is like preferring smaller and sooner rewards over larger, later rewards. It is a weakness of will and can seriously impede one’s way to success and happiness.
College students often find their course work burdensome and unpleasant. According to a University of Nottingham survey statistics, 90 percent of college students procrastinate. Nearly 23 percent of these students were chronic procrastinators i.e they would nearly never meet their deadlines. Such chronic procrastinators often stay up late to complete their assignments. This unhealthy tendency may ultimately lead to stress and depression. Once they have fallen into habit of procrastination, it becomes their lifestyle.
There are various behavioral tendencies that may cause procrastination. Sometimes we tend to avoid the task because it seems plain boring or overwhelming. We may spend hours upon hours watching television and browsing internet. Thus, we tend to seek pleasure in immediate satisfaction. Sometimes we experience ‘‘fear of success’’ or ‘‘fear of failure’’. We do not want to be judged. We think too much about the outcomes – ‘‘what if I fail despite putting in my best effort?’’ or ‘‘I don’t want to be in the limelight and accept more responsibilities’’. Other causes of procrastination are perfectionism, lack of prioritization, rebellion and skill deficit. Perfectionism may lead to procrastination because a perfectionist wants everything to be flawless. If we have a lot of things to do, lack of prioritization may lead to procrastination. Sometimes we procrastinate to react against imposed expectations and standards. At times, we do not finish our tasks because we want to rebel or resist against our parents or teachers. Some tasks require additional skills. If we do not invest proper time and energy to learn the prerequisites, doing the task will not be possible.
How can we beat procrastination practically? Unless someone suffers from chronic procrastination, OCD or ADHD, they can beat procrastination on their own without counseling or psychotherapy. Do positive self-talk. Analyze your case. Know the motives behind your acts of procrastination. Stop looking at your task as a whole. Break down your task into small parts and tackle them one by one. This technique is called ‘‘chunking’’. It is important that you are not constantly blaming yourself. Do not try to do it perfectly. Just put in your best effort. This is called 80/20 principle. Know your weaknesses and strengths. Go slow and steady if task seems too overwhelming. Do not over pressurize yourself. Taking control of your environment is very important for avoiding procrastination. When you have started working, make your to-do-list ready. This will help you stay organized and focused. Your surroundings should be free from distractions. Take control of your thoughts and overcome your temptations even if causes a little stress. It may seem ironic but sometimes it is necessary to take mini-breaks and delay your work to beat procrastination. It is when you are constantly losing your focus. Take a break, do something that may energize you like stretching, having a quick walk or taking a nap.
Summing things up, procrastination is the lack of self-regulatory ability and can develop into a serious problem if ignored. Gerald Vaughan rightly said, ‘‘Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow.’’