I’ll Do it Tomorrow – The Reasons Why We Procrastinate

Procrastination is undeniably one of the biggest burdens we as college students bear. I remember the simpler days in high school, where assignments were broken up into fragments and when you were given work it was due the next day. This method of completion worked extremely well for me. Usually, my anxiety about school work will override my desire to procrastinate, yet somehow I have been found to fall into the trap of procrastination from time to time. Even some of my friends who I consider to be rigorous students have found themselves cramming for deadlines. I have always wondered, what exactly causes us to procrastinate? Is it simply laziness or is it something more? And how large of an impact does procrastination have on our academic lives?

The research done on procrastination seems to suffer from the infamous file drawer problem. Much of the studies done on the issue of procrastination are solely self-reported studies. There seems to be a lack of observational or experimental studies in the area concerning procrastination.

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After doing some research however, I found a study done on procrastination from the University of Minnesota. The study focused on the four different categories of procrastination. The four different types consisted of : disorganized procrastinators, arousal procrastinators, fear of failure procrastinators, and avoidance procrastinators. The test group studied was chosen by a series of rigorous tests and surveys performed on a group of students that varied in race, gender, and even in age. The experimental group was comprised of one of each of these types of procrastinators.

The disorganized procrastinator was generalized to be a student that did work ignorant of the advice of teachers. They normally completes tasks carelessly and had strong emotional reactions when they faced adversity in the classroom. The arousal procrastinator was seen to be a student that felt that their best work was done when given a condensed amount of time. The pressure of looming and urgent deadlines pushed these students to complete their work. The fear of failure procrastinators avoided their work because of their immense anxiety in the classroom. These students felt that the pressure to succeed was too great to complete their work. They often procrastinate and pass in poor work because it gives them a concrete explanation as to why it is bad, they did not begin the work on time. Finally the avoidance procrastinators left work until the last minute simply because they valued other spheres of their life more. Whether it was their friends, family, job, etc. these students felt that other factors took precedence over their schoolwork.

The study was performed wanted to test how these different types of procrastinators behaved in a rigorous academic environment. The null hypothesis of this study would be that nothing in particular causes procrastination, it is simply a random occurrence.  Through differing observational computer tests that recorded the student’s progress over a period of ten weeks, the results found proved that procrastination for the most part had an overwhelmingly negative effect on each of the student’s academics except for the arousal procrastinator. The fear of failure, avoidance, and disorganized procrastinators however all suffered from low scoring grades. The most interesting result of this study however would probably be that the test subjects all ranged in race, background, and even age. This presented the idea that we are all susceptible to procrastination no matter what our background is.

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From the study, it is clear that procrastination should be avoided at all costs for students. It reduces anxiety and for the most part will help improve your grades. However, if you do decide to procrastinate, make sure to take the arousal route; get your work done, and get it done right, and within the looming deadline.

8 thoughts on “I’ll Do it Tomorrow – The Reasons Why We Procrastinate

  1. dhc5097

    Procrastination plagues many college students and I fall victim to it myself occasionally. I have been in that situation where I have to begin an important and time consuming project the night before its due and my experiences from this is what keeps me from procrastinating to this day. The stress caused by procrastination motivates me to avoid procrastination. I never knew there were multiple stages of procrastination and I thought that was very interesting. I came to the conclusion that when I do procrastinate I am a mix of the disorganized procrastinator and avoidance procrastinator. I found an article online that gives 11 ways to cut down on procrastination that could be useful for many college students.

  2. Wencong Wang

    It is a really fun post! I like the part the experiment classify the procrastinate into four different categories. Obviously, procrastinate is common phenomenon that we all experienced. But I hold a different opinion from this experiment. Lots of time I do procrastinate is just because I am too lazy to do it. Sometimes, I have too many homeworks need to do, I thought it cost lots of my time, so I just do not do it, and leave it in my future, even I know it is bad for my grade. I do not know how many times I write my homework just before the deadline and I still do it. I want to avoid that. Here I found a article talks the 11 practical ways that can stop you from procrastinate
    Hope it can help you

  3. Daniel J Lehecka

    I really liked this post, I thought explaining the different types of procrastinators was a really smart idea. I think the biggest reason for a lot of people, myself included, is the sheer amount of distractions that exist in the world around us. If I’m doing homework on my computer, I tend to open up tabs of Twitter and YouTube every 5 minutes because I struggle with focusing. This completely breaks my concentration on the material and it takes me way longer then it should to complete my work. Another thing that happens is I feel that there’s so much work to be done there’s no way I could possibly get it all done and so I just don’t try until it hits me that I need to be doing it. This article ( http://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/homework-distractions ) has helped me try to improve my homework situation, so now I don’t do homework in my room because I would just end up laying on my bed and my phone goes on silent and into my backpack.

  4. Emma Murphy

    This blog was interesting. I did not know that there were different kinds of procrastinators. After reading the descriptions of each, I came to the conclusion that I am a mix of a fear of failure procrastinator and an avoidance procrastinator. Because I feel like I won’t do well on whatever assignment or test I have coming up, I avoid dealing with it at all costs. I put off my studying or work till the last minute. But sometimes I feel as though procrastinating is beneficial to me, as crazy as that sounds. I am the type of person who will be able to get my work done and focus more last minute. Although I don’t focus as much when the due date is not luring over me, I would say that the quality of my work would definitely be better if I did not wait to the last minute.

  5. Olivia Watkins

    Very well written! Everyone can relate to such a topic and to be honest, especially with this specific class. I sometimes struggle to agree with how many required Gen Eds that we have to take at Penn State. I come to college to get an education about what will help me further my career. General Eds about Ancient Egypt or Art don’t do too much. But, at the same time, being well-rounded and educated does require broadening your spectrum and Gen Ed’s fit perfectly in that category. The reason why I bring this up is because when it comes to Gen Ed’s I feel that they don’t come to mind as much as a core class does. What I learn about Egyptian structures and learning about legal aspects within my major, I tend to first take care of the core class. I believe that this reasoning may be another reason of why procrastination occurs!

    1. Hannah Katherine Morrissey Post author

      This is a very interesting point. I found myself throughout high school complaining as to why I had to take certain classes such as math if I knew I never wanted a job related to math at all in the future. The question definitely became more fervent in my mind as I started college and realized that once again I was required to take certain classes even if my decided major had nothing to do with them. I’ve come to the realization however that being well rounded academically (as well as outside of the classroom) is essential to becoming an appealing applicant when you are trying to get a job in the future. I found an article that analyzes the importance of being a well rounded student below.

  6. Joe Garrett

    As you mentioned procrastination seems to be a problem for many students in college, myself included. I have gotten better at getting over my procrastination as I have gone further throughout my college career. I find that the relief of getting the assignment done early is much better than the pressure felt by working on the assignment up until the deadline. That is not to say that I never procrastinate however. I found it interesting that the study you discussed categorized procrastinators into four different types. I found myself relating to the avoidance procrastination category. Whenever I really don’t feel like doing I work I find it is usually because of an excuse like “Ahh, it’s too nice outside to sit in here and study. I’ll do this later when the weather is not as nice.” Here is an article that discusses reasons why we procrastinate and how we can try to stop procrastinating – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fearless-you/201506/9-reasons-you-procrastinate-and-9-ways-stop

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