The Science Behind Procrastination

Have you ever been given assignment that you had plenty of time to do, and then realize the deadline is tomorrow? I thought about the topic of my blog, as I continued to put this blog assignment off and became angry at myself for beginning to develop the bad habit of procrastination. Once i noticed I was postponing impending task, I became curious as to why myself and millions of others do so.

procrastination

I personally believe that procrastination is detrimental to humans in the long run, which is sad because statistics show that procrastination affects over 20% of the population. After some research, I came to the generalization that people put off task that they don’t find amusing, boring, or difficult. Another article suggest that we procrastinate is because it gives us instant gratification. In other words, you tell yourself that you’ll do a certain task later, which makes you feel better without actually even doing anything.

tomorrow

Critics of procrastination say it is self-defeating in that it lowers the quality of performance. Also, procrastination is correlated with depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and poor study habits. Studies show that the relation between procrastination is indirect, so we cannot say either is causation of the other.

On the other hand, procrastinators argue that they “work better under pressure”. For some this may be true, but for others it’s not. I recently just read a book called, “Mind Gym” which discussed how people can either perform 15% better or worse under pressure. Although some people can excel even when they procrastinate, it is never a good idea to purposely do so. In the long run people who procrastinate build up high stress levels. Also, a study conducted a few years ago, showed that 25% of 195 participants who procrastinate had significantly lower GPA’s and class grades.

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There are millions of people out there who want to stop procrastinating; so why is it so hard to stop doing it? Simple, because your brain acts as a natural defense mechanism, also known as fight or flight response (caused by neural activity and hormones) and protects you from assignments and things you believe will make you uncomfortable or put you at risk.

fight or flight

 

Despite the natural response of the brain, there are ways to prevent and avoid procrastination, and the following link provides different ways to counteract it, if you are interested.

 

 

8 thoughts on “The Science Behind Procrastination

  1. Meghan Kelly Shiels

    I think an important difference to note is the difference between people who procrastinate and full-on procrastinators noted by Professor Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University. While this might seem to be a fine point, the difference psychologically is extreme according to this article by the Association of psychological science. If you are a habitual procrastinator there are deeper psychological repercussions that you may be facing. As mentioned in your blog, procrastination isn’t something that is helpful to your future self or your mind.

  2. sba5240

    Procrastination is a huge problem I had throughout high school. Being in college now, I fear that procrastination will get the better of me and make me fall behind. I am trying my hardest to not procrastinate and evenly distribute my work through the week but it is still hard to be scared that I will procrastinate. I have also always wondered why procrastination was such a huge problem and the fight or flight example was a huge help to answer that question. I think this was a perfect topic to inform people about, especially in a college class because a lot of people do have problems with procrastination.

  3. Eric Robert Kisner

    Emanuel,

    I really thought the paragraph mentioning the link between procrastination and anxiety and depression was very insightful. I’ve always found myself to procrastinate most significantly when I’m depressed or when my head is fuzzy. There tends to be a reverse causation here for me too, as procrastination tends to make everything pile up and cause a Hell of a lot more anxiety and depression that would have existed without procrastination added in. It’s a vicious cycle indeed, and it’s kind of fascinating how the two affect one another.

  4. Bailee Nicole Koncar

    Hi Emanuel,

    Similarly to everyone else, I too am guilty of procrastination. It is so easy to push off assignments that we find difficult or uninteresting and find satisfaction in setting a later date. We get to enjoy ourselves for the time being and feel accomplished knowing that we set a time to eventually get it done. However, once we push an assignment back once, it becomes easier to do. It is unfortunate that we are mentally wired to avoid such situations because we suffer as a result. It is true that some work well under pressure, but I don’t believe that that is a healthy mentality. We need to allow ourselves time to work and review our assignments to obtain the best results. It is interesting that students push off assignments that are more difficult. These should be the ones that are done first because then all is left is the easier ones. They do not require as much work and therefore can be done whenever. Hopefully in the future, we learn to better prioritize and can avoid procrastination all together.

  5. Jenna Marie Snyder

    I could really identify with this article in that I, too, procrastinate on a lot of my homework. Although I am trying to stay ahead on these blogs I do find it easy to push them to the side and say I can do it later. I never thought about why we procrastinate but now that I have read this, it all makes sense. I do think that waiting until the last minute to do certain tasks does have its positives and negatives but the negative might out weigh the positive. I think your topic was chosen smartly in that many people will be able to identify with it!

  6. Megan Ann French

    I’ve also been procrastinating with certain homework assignments and this blog post will actually help myself and a lot of other people around you. I say to myself sometimes that waiting till last minute, or like you said “working under pressure”, will actually make me do better but I know that if I get it done in advanced and not wait until last minute I would do better and get better grades.

  7. ams7461

    This blog will probably hit everyone very hard because we are all subjects to procrastination. I’ve never thought of why we procrastinate before I read this article. I like how you incorporated both sides of the argument, showing that there are possibly good and bad things that happen when you procrastinate.

  8. Claire E Going

    Emanuel,

    This article really hits home because I have been procrastinating very badly lately, which only piles on more stress and more anxiety. I love that you linked to the app self control because I use it daily and I find it to be a huge help to steer me away from watching youtube videos all day long, and instead getting my work done without any of the digital distractions. This article will help a lot of your peers to overcome bad homework and study habits!

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