With now under 16 hours to fulfill the blog period requirements, procrastination could not be a more relevant subject. I have never been one to hold off work to the last minute, but the past few weeks I have noticed myself getting closer and closer to the deadline when turning assignments in (and even over in one case). While this may be due to my currently over-packed schedule, it still makes me wonder why we procrastinate?
Oregon State University outlines the six major reasons why people choose to procrastinate.
- Lack of Skill- When an individual has trouble completing a task, they might put it off till later and do something that is easier for them. Finding a section of Math difficult? Put it off until after you do the Econ that you easily. Putting it off briefly because you do not understand is not the issue. The issue is when you choose not to find a way to learn the material and continually put it off until you have reached the deadline.
- Lack of interest- There are always going to be courses and subjects that you never can get into. It’s completely understandable, everyone is not interested in everything. But that is not an excuse to put off doing required work.
- Lack of motivation- Something I have every morning when I try to get out of bed. We all most likely have something else we would rather be doing. The key is just realizing you need to do it and get it over with, once you gather the motivation to start working it becomes much easier to do the assignment.
- Fear of Failure- The belief that you may fail is very influential. If you believe you are not capable of doing something, then why would you even try to do it? You are going to fail either way in the end. That is why believing you will fail can do to you and when you choose to procrastinate because you believe you will fail, it gives you less time to complete the assignment and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
- Fear of Success- The opposite of believing you will fail. This is an interesting concept that has to do with an individuals not trying to succeed because they do not want to be expected to do good in the future. I can’t think of any time this has ever come into play with school work but it definitely has happened at work. Working a job you don’t even really care about as a teenager and you are asked to do a crappy task. Even though you may be rewarded for doing good, you never want to do it again so you half-ass it and take the short term consequences with the hope that you will never be asked to do it again.
- Opposition to Authority- The belief that you are the only one that can make you do something- an awful outlook to have on life. There can be many reasons why one would just blatantly choose to procrastinate or not to tasks at all. Maybe they are too ‘cool’ to do their assignments- they won’t still be laughing in 20 years about how they did not turn in a single assignment the entire semester. Maybe your parents forced you into going to college when you would have much rather drove a garbage truck- you respond by purposefully slacking off in school because you have no real interest in being there (goes along with lack of interest and motivation).
Most of these seem to have an easy fix, just a change in mindset. But sometimes you may not even feel like you are procrastinating. You don’t put something off on purpose but you happened to fill your schedule with so much busy work that you did not have time to complete it. So is there something deeper that causes procrastination? A reason behind why we ‘willingly’ procrastinate when we know the consequences?
The following paragraph should not make you believe it is okay to procrastinate.
The answer is yes! Procrastination is a result of our primal instincts. According to this article by Amy Spencer, the human brain is built to procrastinate– thanks to the limbic system. The limbic system is in the ‘older’ part of the brain that is responsible for natural instincts and primordial responses. This part of the brain causes instantaneous reactions that we do not even have to think about. The brain is in a constant state of regulation and is always trying to avoid negative feelings and emotions. When we are tasked with something that seems stressful or challenging, our limbic system instantly kicks in and comes up with ways for us to avoid the task and the negative emotions that could possible come along with it. (Spencer)
Besides having a negative impact on success, does procrastination have more unseen negative consequences? Fuschia Sirois and Jennifer Voth, psychological scientists at Bishop’s University, conducted a study to find if procrastination is linked to health issues and stress. She created a group that reported they had either cardiovascular disease or hypertension and another group that was healthy to use as a control. The participants were surveyed to analyze things like procrastination, health issues, and life style choices. The test group showed much higher levels of procrastination, showing a correlation between health issues and procrastination. In the published study, Siros and Voth conclude that procrastination leads to poor health issues. However, after reading this article about the study, it is clear they failed to find a casual link between procrastination and poor health, in reality they only found a correlation. While it is still possible that procrastination leads to bad health, it was proven with this study.
Even though the study failed to find that procrastination leads to poor health, it still showed a correlation. How hard is it to not procrastinate? Even if it won’t lead to poor health, it still is a bad practice. Putting more time into an assignment gives you more time to perfect it and earn a better grade or whatever the prize for doing good is. While in many cases it is just a fact of being busy, you should still try to avoid procrastination for your own benefit.
Here is an article giving tips to stop procrastinating in case you are having trouble.