Procrastinate Now, Don’t put it Off

Procrastinate Now, Don’t put it Off

Emily Wolfrum, Editor-in-Chief

With finals a comfortable week away from beginning, it seems quite likely that most students have not yet made any conscious efforts to begin their studying.

For many, the ultimate hysteria of sorting through notes, memorizing figures, and cracking down on their textbooks will not come until hours before their exams.

In fact, according to Psychology Today, one in five identify themselves as chronic procrastinators, persistently putting off activities in all aspects of their lives.

While parents and teachers boil down these time management mishaps to mere laziness, psychological research may yet provide college students with the back-up excuse of science.

In a study by Norman Milgram on college students in the 90s (The Procrastination of Everyday Life), causes of procrastination were categorized in one of three ways:

Dysphoric affect: Students prioritize tasks of greatest pleasure over those with “negative emotional response” (i.e. studying).

Covert negativism: Students prioritize tasks they view as voluntary over those which seem forced or imposed.

Perceived Incompetence: Students put off assignments and work which they feel they are incapable of executing (“fear of failure”).

In a similar study on Turkish high school students by Bilge Uzen Ozer and Joseph R. Ferrari (Gender Orientation and Academic Procrastination), “risk taking” or “working well under pressure” was additionally listed as a potential reason for procrastinating.

“When you have a short amount of time to do something, you have to get it done,” said graduate mental health and counseling student Humara Awan. “You feel much more stressed and nervous.”

This very active decision to put off work stems often from unrealistic perceptions of time. In her article “Why We Procrastinate,” Hara Estroff Marano states bluntly: “Procrastinators tell lies to themselves.”

“I keep putting everything off because I keep telling myself that there is all the time in the world even though I know that’s never the case,” said freshman psychology major Eric Medina-Rivera.

Undoubtedly, this habit has been enhanced by modern technology, where distracting oneself from a task is easier than ever.

While computers, smartphones, and social media were designed to make tasks more efficient and less time-consuming, their more recreational functions serve as enablers to slow productivity.

When asked about the source of her procrastination, junior nursing student Carson Tibbett answered in one word—“Facebook.”

“It’s more fun. It’s easier. It’s just mindless,” she said.

While student ability to organize time may seem skewed, the quality of the work they produce is not necessarily affected.

A 1997 study by Dr. Dianne Tice and Roy Baumiester suggested this idea. It concluded:

“Whether a task is done far ahead of the deadline or only slightly ahead of it does not necessarily make any difference in the quality of work”

While students generally agreed with this idea, they did admit to other effects procrastination had taken on their health.

Sleep deprivation and increased stress levels were common byproducts of chronic procrastination in students.

Psychology Today added that procrastinators, on average, experience more colds and flus, gastrointestinal problems, and cases of insomnia than non-procrastinators, and display higher levels of alcohol consumption.

For some, the solution to their procrastinating problems can be found in the practice of better time management skills.

In an article entitled “An Instant Cure for Procrastination,” Dr. Marcia Eckerd suggested breaking up assignments in to smaller tasks, rewarding accomplishments, and removing all distractions from the work environment as just a few quick tricks to fighting the urge to put off.
“I don’t procrastinate as bad as others because I have my work scheduled out so that I’m never cramming the night before,” said freshman nursing student Katrina Villacorta.

However, for others, procrastination is merely a result of an individual’s mental state, personality, or upbringing, and must be mastered rather than cured.

As Dr. Ferrari once said on a conference panel for the American Psychological Association, “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up.”

Essentially, it’s worth putting off.