Is Procrastination Helping or Hurting You?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a procrastinator.  I procrastinated on assignments in middle school, and especially in high school.  I realize that my procrastinaprocrasttion habits are usually detrimental in some way, yet I continue to procrastinate.  However, with the beginning of my collegiate career, I am attempting to change my procrastination habits.  I do wonder if it is possible to abandon procrastination completely, but I figure that it is at least worth a shot.  After all, only good things can come from getting assignments done ahead of time. (Image)


According to Eric Jaffe, procrastination is when you willingly put off a task that needs completed, even though you know that there will be negative consequences because of your decision.  You decide for yourself when you will complete certain tasks, and the act of postponing them illustrates poor self-control, which is a key component of procrastination.  We often put a task off temporarily in order to participate in a more exciting or interesting activity.  For example, you may put off studying for a test that’s a few days away in order to be able to attend a concert.  However, research suggests that people are aware that the consequences of choosing the more entertaining activity are bad in the long run, but choose to participate in it anyway. 

Studies dating back to the 1990s suggest that procrastinators almost always perform more poorly than students who do not procrastinate. Psychological Science researches Dianne Tice and Roy Baumeister found interesting results from a study performed on college students.  At first, the researchers found that there was a benefit to procrastination and the time-crunch that it forced students to work within.  However, by the time the two finished the study they were able to conclude that the few advantages of procrastination were far outweighed by the plentiful disadvantages.  The researchers concluded that the students who procrastinated received lower grades for their work.  In addition to worse grades than those who did not procrastinate, those who did found themselves feeling much more stressed as a result of their procrastination (Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. 1997).

So, what can I do to help fight my procrastination?  While not all of these strategies used to lessen the likelihood of procrastination will work for everyone, hopefully you will find at least one that works for you.  One possible way to eliminate procrastination from your life is to take assignments/ tasks and break them down into smaller sections.  By doing so, each small section will feel less intimidating than the overall assignment and can be completed in more effective, short bursts.  Researchers Dan Airely and Klaus Wertenbroch suggest setting your own individual deadlines before an actual due date.  The two researchers say that if people who usually procrastinate try setting their own personal deadlines, they may evoke more meaning from the deadlines, and are then more likely to meet the deadlines (Ariely, D., & Wertenbroch, K. 2002).  Rewarding yourself after completing a task or meeting a deadline is also found to be more effective than beating yourself down after procrastinating.

I took courses over the summer here at Penn State, and I did manage to reduce the amount that I procrastinate by a decent amount.  The strategy that I find to be the most helpful is setting my own individual deadlines.  If I meet my deadlines, I then reward myself.  I have found the combination of those two strategies work the best for me.  Procrastination will definitely hurt you more than it will ever help you, but if you put in enough effort it can be avoided.

4 thoughts on “Is Procrastination Helping or Hurting You?

  1. dms6679

    I have never thought of myself as a procrastinator before reading this post! Now, I realize that what I thought were normal study habits for me, are actually elements of procrastination. I like how you provided a lot of facts, and research in your post! I will definitely keep in mind the importance of breaking my bad habit of waiting last minute to do things!

  2. Amanda Voirrey Rust

    I can relate to this blog because I am the biggest procrastinator that I know. I usually tell myself I am going to get things done, but never end up doing anything according to schedule. The few times that I have gotten work done early, I feel much better. My stress is relieved and I feel like I have accomplished a lot. I will try your strategy or deadlines and rewards because I could see that being beneficial to me. In addition to your advice, I found an article listing other ways to conquer procrastination.
    Hopefully this year I can improve on this!

  3. Colleen Bridget Mcshea

    I have always been an absolutely horrible procrastinator. I have always tried to break this habit, but I’ve never quite been able to. I just feel like I do my best work when in a time crunch. Perhaps, though, I could have been doing better than I thought I could all along if I could just get myself to stop procrastinating! I will definitely take your strategy into consideration so that I can not only perform better academically, but also try to lessen my stress level while adjusting to college life!

  4. Jackson Grey Hope

    Procrastination is a huge problem in students all around the world and you gave some really interesting facts and statistics. It is like a virus that cannot be stopped! No matter how hard students try they cannot get away from sending a snapchat or checking what their friend has just posted to Instagram. Here’s a video that may help the negative side effects of procrastination.

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