Confessions of a Procrastination Junkie
You may be reading this as the clock ticks down on the deadline for that essay. Here you are again, desperately typing away to reach the minimum word count, while frequently taking short breaks to keep your mind from frazzling. Rest assured that many others face similar plights daily. So many, have fallen into the trap of putting things off until tomorrow again and again until there is no tomorrow and the midnight deadline fast approaches.
As a teacher, I have spoken with many students who waited until the night before, morning of, or even the minutes prior to class in order to complete their assignment. On multiple occasions, I have watched students on one end of the classroom scurry to complete their work as I start collecting papers from the other side. It is a habit, and a widespread one. I think the only way to beat it is to take the wording a step further. Procrastination is an addiction.
We are addicted to the immediate gains of putting off work. It means we get to relax in the immediate moment, and that gives us a short-term pleasure boost. Giving in to short-term gain for long-term suffering is not all that different from drug use. Eventually, habits become subconscious and we act without fully realizing our actions. In order to beat any problem, we have to accept it as a problem. Yet we also have to accept the reasons why we do it – we have to find the good in our addiction.
Aside from that short-term burst of endorphins, students often speak of their love of pressure. Many of us think that the pressure of a deadline pushes us to work harder and produce a better end product. Time and time again, experiments have shown that humans make worse decisions when under pressure. Many people think that pressure drives results, but it does so at a cost.
This ties into one last cause of procrastination I have seen, not only in students but in myself. After much deliberation, I realized that I put things off as a protective measure. By waiting until the last minute, you are physically incapable of giving a task your all. I realized I gave myself no choice but to rush. If the task ultimately failed, I could put the blame on my procrastination. I preferred thinking I could have done better over giving it my all, failing, and discovering my limits. I became addicted to this safety net which coddled me.
Beating an addiction means fully analyzing it. You need to make sense of why you procrastinate, and from there determine the value and damage that results from it. Only then can you see its addictive nature, its misleading positives, and the hindrance it places on your potential. By facing those realities instead of a clock ticking down to midnight, you can take action now.
Pychyl, Tomothy. I’ll Feel More Like It Tomorrow. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/201203/ill-feel-more-it-tomorrow