“Procrastinating on something important is choosing to delay a better future.”
As a writer with no deadlines for my work submission, procrastination is always staring out of my window. Peeking, with an immense stare of “Can I go in now?” Its been a hassle. It thinks I will let it in to do whatever it wants just to disrupt my work. I finally managed to pass through a difficult game level that I have been stuck on for days by watching a couple of tutorial videos on Youtube. No, seriously, with no deadlines, I worry not. The important thing is I managed to predict that at 3 a.m., the chicken clucked for the first-morning call. It’s excellent because the timing matched the moment I finally finished writing this article.
We are all procrastinators of our own thing. We tend to prioritize something for instant gratification, neglecting the worthwhile things to be done later. Remember kneeling over a sea of paperwork while the deadline drawing near in the corner? Anxiety, dread, and guilt rushed through our veins. Afterward, this inescapable regrets and self-hatred filled our minds. There is no denying it that we are all inmates of the same fate. Procrastination, the bane of uptight schedules and new year’s resolution of achieving an excellent exercise routine, is a problem for students, especially in this pandemic.
In today’s new normal, universities must do their best to reach out to their students without entering the boundaries set for safety. However, it does not cover up the fact that the focus and the hands-on experience we used to feel are far from possible to return anytime soon. Although they address good scheduling of online sessions and take a proper direction for their new flexible mode of learning, some students are now encouraged to practice good self-study plans and time management due to limited assistance and supervision. And that’s a problem for student procrastinators.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a specific deadline. It came from the word in the 16th century from Latin procrastinates, which itself evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning “forward,” and castings, meaning “of tomorrow.” It is a timeless problem that even Socrates and Aristotle proposed a similar Greek word: Akrasia. It means the state of acting against your better judgment.
Let’s cut the chase and discuss the real question to be addressed.
Why do we procrastinate?
Have you ever wondered why it is natural for you to procrastinate like breathing air? Knowing the mechanisms working behind our actions is the best approach to get an insight into how to avoid it. I hope you are not attempting to procrastinate away from reading this because we are now in the exciting bits. Hang in there!
A: Because of time consistency
Behavioral psychology shared their matters on the subject. It explained why we got sucked up into procrastinating despite our motivation and composure to work. A phenomenon called “time inconsistency” was introduced. In economics, time inconsistency is the problem that arises when a decision-maker, especially a policymaker, prefers one policy in advance but later enacts a different one. It is the same when we value the immediate task with less advantage than a future worthwhile endeavor that contradicts our prior objective.
An example of this is setting a goal to avoid sweets for a healthy diet. However, as tomorrow comes, you have realized the consequences are far from happening. In conclusion, you spend the day eating your favorite chocolates.
B: Because of the “instant gratification” culture
In that sense, we indeed are spoiled. With this generation of the dominant “instant gratification” culture provided by the progressing technology, we live in a pinnacle of convenience. We are used to finishing our papers by only printing it afterward, find answers by Googling our questions, and watching our favorite shows again by downloading it online. No wonder it affected our behavior towards work as well. Today, we tend to stick with the problem even more with complicated means of escape.
C: Because of a fragile and flawed framework of your mind
In the TED Talk, hosted by Tim Urban, “Inside the mind of a procrastinator,“ he proposed a fascinating style of describing how they act with behavioral psychology concerns. In your brain, there was a dispute between a rational decision-maker and an instant gratification monkey over who’s rights to steer the mind for decision making. If the monkey takes control over the wheel, procrastination will likely to occur. Afterward, such actions, like browsing Youtube videos, will feel more valuable than doing the last straw project that you get from a strict teacher.
The rational decision-maker has no control over the monkey’s exploits. The monkey’s desires won over the steering wheel. Nevertheless, there’s this “panic monster” who keeps the monkey under its supervision. When you analyze the whole picture, it is a perfect representation of what’s going on inside the procrastinator’s mind.
Similarly, James Clear took the subject of how we do procrastinations into an example of our two selves: the present self and future self.
While doing things like planning ahead of time about eating healthy foods for better health someday or studying in advance to prepare for the test coming up next month, you favor your Future self. Planning is what your Future self envisions you to do to get better results once the time comes. However, your Present self has the role of taking action. In contrary to your Future self, its nature is allowing instant gratification and leisure. This diversion of functions and perception of yourselves construct a dilemma.
By removing the metaphorical sense of Tim Urban and James Clear’s interpretation, we could see the clear view of what’s going on. The commonality of the two concepts is that there are always two opposing sides, clashing. Taking it to an account and a consideration that there will be one victor. Procrastination will likely happen when your degree of motivation and rationality are outweighed by negative factors such as exhaustion, boredom, or desires. Lastly, our changing emotions as an effect of a stimulus can topple down the feebleness state of a seemingly constant mind.
D: Because of negative moods
When things get disorganized within a time limit, hard tasks will get mixed with the easy ones. At that point, managing it will be a labor in itself. This time negative factors are in the form of anxiety, perfectionism, low self-esteem, or fear of failure. As a result, we find it hard to concentrate. Stress levels will increase. In regards to that factor, your brain will not let you be hard on yourself, then hit you up with a leeway like, “Nope, it’s too hard for you. How about checking these new notifications from the messenger. Maybe it comes from your crush, who knows?” In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois discovered procrastination as “the primary of short term mood repair …over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions,” It also about “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.
E: Because of being distracted easily
Humans are always distracted in their line of thought Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth, and Daniel Gilbert found that the human mind is wired for continuous distraction. In a study conducted with 2,250 adults, they concluded that we spend around 47 percent of every waking hour “mind wandering.” It makes us vulnerable to distractions that will likely lead to procrastination.
In this pandemic, students are stranded into corners of their house. With reachable temptations that can disturb their work, adjusting can be difficult. Unlike in school, engagement is built and provided on a natural learning environment, but in our homes, we will develop our commitment to learning. This change in the learning environment will not be easy for students since we consider their homes a haven away from social responsibilities. No frequent warnings from educators and deadlines have a light tone. Rough as it looks, procrastinating is the last thing you need to do in these situations.
How to avoid procrastination?
Option 1: Set up your home into a new learning environment
With the COVID19 still on the loose, we are asked to resume classes online instead of face-to-face learning. With the sudden change of learning grounds, we are forced to adjust to the current situation. If you have a room, start organizing and classify things that you need in online sessions. You can also pick the quiet or most comfortable place in your house and turn it into your study den. If you set your home as your new learning environment, you will not lose productivity and act as a student who follows online schedules and finishes online tasks on time.
Option 2: Consider doing “Temptation Bundling”
In this technique, you will take advantage of the infamous “instant gratification’ as your booster to finish tasks. If you lack the willpower, you may find this useful. It is coined by Katherine Milkman, assistant professor at the Wharton University of Penn, a behavioral economist. Temptation bundling is a technique to do what you want, such as guilty pleasures (binging TV series, indulging sweets, and leaving early for false excuses) that give you instant gratification while doing your least favored task. It is an excellent strategy to keep on being productive while doing yourself a favor. Examples are only listening to your favorite music while doing household chores and only going to Starbucks when you have a thesis to make.
Option 3: Commitment Devices
Victor Hugo, a prolific artist who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame, decided to ask his assistant to lock up all his clothes away so that he couldn’t go out. This desperate yet effective countermeasure helps him to finish his book on time. Still, we will not follow what he exactly did. I mean come on, that’s just insane.
To overcome procrastination, the psychologists proposed a useful tool, a commitment device. It can aid you to stop procrastinating by designing your future actions ahead of time. It looks familiar with what we are commonly trying to do when we have the goal to eliminate our procrastination. The best example is turning off the internet connection while writing. Also, deleting games and social media apps on your phone to stay focused. Although it is hard to sustain, it has promising effects in the end.
Option 4: Make your work more achievable
Whenever complicated or numerous things manage to overwhelm us, we tend to have a low motivation to start working. To make the tasks more feasible is to break them down. For example, consider the remarkable productivity of the famous writer Anthony Trollope. He managed multiple published works, such as novels, articles, and letters. Instead of measuring based on the number of completion, he measured his progress in 15-minute increments. He set 250 words every 15 minutes, and he continued this pattern for three hours each day. This approach helped him maintain his willpower since he felt satisfied with every successful work within 15 minutes. You can do just like that by dividing it into sections or precisely do what Trollope did. Doing so, you can feel the task to be manageable.
Option 5: Don’t try multitasking for the sake of productivity
It is the norm these days that multitasking is a productive movement, but it is not! It reduces performances for the sake of speed. The misconception about being productive is that you are doing it right if you finished many tasks as possible in an allotted time. Being productive is being consistent in maintaining the quality of the work while completing it in the allotted time.
Our brains can only focus on one thing based on the studies. Therefore, using an excuse like you can multitask to justify your worse procrastination habits will do you no good. Instead of pretending you have four arms, you must practice how to handle hours of your time.
Option 6: Don’t Work Under Pressure
Some people claim that they somehow become productive if they cram all the projects when the deadline’s tomorrow. It worked wonders if it is true. I mean you can play videogames at the start of the day and rely on your fantastic adaptability against pressure at the end. Of course, scientific studies disagree with it. Dropping all the works in one go until the very last moment induces stress, guilt, and ineffectiveness.
It may hinder your ability to put your utmost efforts into whatever projects you are working on. You will tend to rush things to the end. Supported by Pschyl, he stated that it doesn’t produce the best work — it just forces us to complete tasks. It is bad behavior for students, especially if you are aiming for an A+ from the teachers.
Option 7: Be a Morning Person
You like the warmth your bed that much, sleeping beauty? If you are aiming to avoid procrastination, you better let it go. It has been working well for me to wake up early in the morning and prepare for the day. In this pandemic, personal development starts at being initiative and uphold it at being self-disciplined. Start at waking early and do the most important thing, like how Ernest Hemingway, an American journalist. He woke up every morning and started writing straight away. Studies stated that mornings boost productivity anyways, so better get moving first thing in the morning!
Solving procrastination proves to be a complex objective that we might as well procrastinate doing it. Following the tips above can help you to set your mind to pursue a goal of productivity. It is a good thing since we have a positive outlook on doing tasks now that we know how to optimize our performance. However, we cannot repel procrastination quickly away from our nature. It is still there as a feeling that may disrupt you out of your zone. But this time, we finally know how to start to make a change. Such actions alone is a massive step towards being a productive individual.
Doing procrastination let us feel like a spectator of our own lives. We know what we are doing, but we still watch ourselves do it nonetheless. Now, we are no longer a spectator but a player who finally started to make an action… “later.”