Procrastination: The Art of Delaying

By Tanisha Bhat ('20)


Photo courtesy of Wix

The satisfaction of putting things off to the last minute has become an essential part of human nature that seems unavoidable at some times. By increasing the amount of stress people experience on a daily basis, procrastination is something that affects students and adults alike.


Procrastination is the act of delaying the completion of a task in hopes of finishing it in the future. A student or adult may do a series of other activities just to avoid finishing their work and then, end up having to complete it last minute under huge amounts of stress. Some even try to justify their actions by claiming that they work better under pressure, which may only be true for a small number of people.


But, why exactly do people procrastinate when they are given an ample amount of time to complete their work?


According to psychology.com, procrastination is an accurate display of how the chronic struggle with self-control and the preference for being in a good state of mind takes precedence over actually completing the task at hand.


The excuses often heard to delay an assignment include “I just don’t feel like it” or “Not right now.” Tasks are delayed with the thinking that one’s current mood is not right and will change in the near future. People are often aware that their actions will be detrimental to them in the near future and yet continue to postpone.


Another common practice is to justify actions by saying “If I sleep now, I will be able to focus later on.”


Psychology teacher Mrs. Beth McGinley said, “Often people underestimate the time that a task will take and they think that they would be better served doing it at another time. Other times, if the tasks are uncomfortable or unpleasant, anxiety and hesitation can perpetuate the feelings that they cannot do it right then and will be best served doing the task at another time. It become a vicious cycle, the anxiety then increases with the tension that occurs due to the task hanging over their heads.”


People often think that their future self will be better at completing tasks than their current self. This creates what TheAtlantic.com calls as the “doom loop”. The doom loop starts off with a person saying that they will do their work later, and then slowly realize they are being unproductive and decide to start thinking of the task at hand. But unfortunately, the person will come to think that they are not in the right mood and go back to delaying their work.


According to the same article, within the average procrastinators there are many different subtypes. Thrill-seeker procrastinators typically leave things off to the last minute in order to get an adrenaline rush to help them complete their work. Perfectionists are usually too scared of failing that they don’t even attempt to try to finish their work. They would rather not take up a task than face the fact that they may not deliver.


Additionally, avoiders delay their work due to their fear of failure mostly because they are too concerned with what others will think of them. Indecisive procrastinators are those who cannot make important decisions and wait until the absolute last minute to do their work.


Junior Alex Donlon said, “ I personally feel like I am a perfectionist procrastinator since I usually put off hard assignments until the absolute last second because I feel like I am going to mess up big time.”


Although procrastination may seem inescapable, there are methods to help those who suffer in extreme cases.


According to Forbes.com, one method is to write down a goal that is to be accomplished and create a deadline for it. By making a general plan as well as devising a specific step-by-step plan, the goal appears less intimidating and easier to complete. Additionally, students can try to be accountable for finishing the goals on time by setting up personal check-ins.

Tackling the desire to postpone assignments for present gratification is no easy task, but it can be curbed by using a series of methods over a period of time to break the habit of procrastination.

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