The Power of Procrastination.
I will freely admit that the only reason why I am even writing this blog entry is because my Kobo needs to recharge. I promised myself that I would write one blog entry every two weeks this year. Feel free to count on January 1, 2015 to see how well I did. I am betting on five entries. It isn’t that I don’t like to write the blogs, or that I can’t find the time. The problem is procrastination. I am the type of person who expects the planets to align before I start a task.
To write a blog entry I need the following:
a) Inspiration for a topic
b) Quiet space to work
c) A minimum of four hours
d) A computer hooked up to the internet so that I can fact check
e) A computer not hooked up to the internet so that I can’t find ways to distract myself
f) A room with the exact right temperature
g) Sunshine
h) A hot beverage
Not too many requirements, eh?
Procrastination is one of my greatest weaknesses. I will put things off knowing full well that I will wake up in the night stressing about them. Once I finally fall asleep, that is. Even better is dealing with the guilt that comes with knowing you made a bad decision. Many other people are in the same boat as me. We try to avoid dealing with certain tasks often completely aware that the time and effort required to accomplish the tasks may be far less than the time and effort we put into stressing about them.
So why do we do it? (Hold on while I check the internet. I will be back in about an hour. Those cat videos don’t watch themselves, you know). According to a few different articles on Psychology Today, there are three main reasons why we procrastinate:
1) Fear of failure
2) Fear of success
3) Perfectionism
All three of these reasons link back to the root problem- the inability to self-regulate. According to these articles, the cost of procrastination can be greater than we think. It isn’t just about getting a job done. The stress that comes with procrastination can have a negative effect on your health including insomnia (I can attest to that) and a weakened immune system. It can also hamper you in your professional life because you are not reliable or willing to pull your own weight. If you are a student then procrastination can keep you from reaching your academic potential. I don’t really think that I procrastinate for the reasons listed above*. I think I have a more obvious reason- I would just rather be doing something else. Sure, I make myself feel sick by putting off the tasks that need to be done but at least I am getting something out of it, right? There is where self-regulation comes in. I believe that many of us lack the ability to balance the want-to-dos with the have-to-dos. We all seem to want instant gratification and hate having to put off doing the things that make us happy. For me, it might come down to needing an attitude adjustment (you were right mom!). If I can change my mind set to see that no matter what choice I make, it is MY choice therefore I am in control. I am choosing to file those folders, I am choosing to make those phone calls, I am choosing to write those programmes. Maybe then, when I choose to read a book or watch cat videos on the internet, I can do so knowing that I have already finished the have-tos and can now relax, guilt-free, with some want-tos. *full-disclosure- I do sometimes put off submitting certain writing projects because of editing. For the sake of trying to overcome this potential problem, I am just going to read all 2014 entries over a few times and not get caught up in every comma and semi-colon. Please forgive any errors.
My favourite procrastination story involves one of my best friends from school. I love to tell this one to my high school students here at Leeds. Here is how it goes. We were in grade 12 academic English with Mrs. Sampson. She was a fairly strict teacher who didn’t fall sway to sob stories and she would not let you get away with shoddy work. My friend was a good student who typically made the honour roll, showed up for class, was well-behaved, and generally an ideal student. Her one flaw would be that she did often wait to the last minute to work on major projects. She could pretty much always pull it off. Not so much this time. It was our year 12 Independent Study Project. This was a big deal and worth a large portion of our mark. My friend Jaime and I walked into the downstairs girls’ bathroom at RDHS to see Ann (name changed for her protection) camped out on the floor surrounded by papers. This was the morning our ISPs were due. She was doing her project on honey. A major English project-on honey. I still laugh when I think about it. Apparently, she decided on the topic that morning when looking at her mom’s cookbook titles. When I asked her why, she simply said, “I panicked.” So she had to do a major essay and a presentation that was due second period and her only reference was a cookbook.
She got a zero.
This was back when spelling counted and late projects would not be accepted. There was no extra-credit work that would be given in order to help her bring her mark back up. She paid a pretty big price for her procrastination. But the question is, was it worth it?
Nine Tips to Stop Procrastinating
Why We Procrastinate
Why Do You Procrastinate?
Do you have a story about how procrastination came back to bite you? Share it on our Leeds Learning Centre Facebook page at