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 procrastination 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.