Paper's due at 8 AM, but first I must alphabetize my albums, refold my socks, and step out for a nourishing pizza


| 6 Comments

In the spirit of my negligence to write blogs I figured what better topic to start with than that of Procrastination! I myself am a chronic procrastinator and find myself consistently scrambling at the last minute to complete tasks. This of course drives my wife absolutely nuts and she lets me know. So I asked myself why I do this? Why do I always wait until the day of a deadline or study for a test minutes before taking it? Is it because I enjoy stressing myself out, do I just have better things to do, or are there deeper issues to take into account?

 The-real-definition-of-tomorrow.jpg

The first stop in my search was a popular book I had heard about a few years ago called The Theif of Time by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark D. White. Here is where I first heard about the idea of a person having not one version of them, but many fighting for control all at once. This makes sense as I want to write my blog, get an "A" and graduate from college on time, but every time I sit down I realize the dishes need to be done, I have to check my email, grade some papers, or watch a new episode of "The Walking Dead".

O.K. this theory of many versions of me fighting for control justifies my terrible decisions, but is there any science to this? There in fact are studies regarding this topic and in the last few years this has been the subject of debate.

An article on Nature.com discusses several probable causes. The first being stress. We ignore tasks as a coping mechanism for something that is simply too much for us to handle. Another reason suggests that we put things off due to impending guilt of disappointment and shame. While I don't agree to much with this one I can buy into the first. The final issue touched on is time management. This report is quick to call all procrastinators "self-handicapping dreamers". I laughed the first time I read this, but what the author follows up to support this hit home. He states"...Their lack of confidence, combined with high ambitions create an unrealistic want for heroic success that results in excessive planning." The reoccurring theme here seems to be a failing fo successful planing.

So is procrastination really psychological or just poor time management? Recall that I suggested we are made of many versions of our selves. Where do these versions reside? Where is this battle taking place?

It seems that much of our contention for time management comes from the prefrontal cortex. Here we find planning, impulse control, complex thought, and filtering what we pay attention to. All of these aspects are fighting for priority. When we have a task that is shorter in length and can be completed within the time we are thinking about it those things tend to get done before anything long term or undesirable. Such as eating, looking at facebook to check likes on my status, email, doing the dishes, taking the trash out, etc. All of these tasks always seem to suddenly become so much more important than any giant assignment I have that is still weeks out from being due.

So far science only has one answer to combat this, time management. If we set small goals for large projects we can see progress and then justify working on long-term projects further away from its due date. This feeds our brain's search for gratification, helps alleviate procrastination and of course reduces stress.

I'll continue to try these theories and let you all know if any if my anxiety level has been reduced.

work.jpg

 

6 Comments

I see the truth in both poor time management and stress causing procrastination. I mean, if I felt guilty for putting something off, I'd try to get it done sooner rather than later. But having so much to do makes it difficult to plan out everything that you should cover that day, so a simple moment of forgetting to write something down, or writing about something your teacher mentioned but never assigned, can turn into an entire ruined day. Poor time management can inherently be caused by stress, therefore causing accidental procrastination.

I, too, am a heavy procrastinator. The blogs I wrote for the last blog period were rushed and crammed into the last couple of days-- and it shows in the quality of my work. And it's absolutely true that procrastination leads to stress, and then more procrastination. It's a vicious cycle and one I have yet to break entirely. Thanks for the post! Really easy to relate to.

I'm so glad somebody wrote about this- as a freshman at Penn State, I've really had to get back into the swing of things when it comes to schoolwork. I slacked off a lot second semester of my senior year and it shows now because I got into some pretty bad habits. Especially now that we're in college and time management is completely up to us, procrastination is one of the most relevant issues we all share. Why write a paper when you can take a nap, right? But I researched a few ways to deal with procrastination. The first thing that came to mind was the Self Control App - one of my good friends uses it - your browser actually blocks you from accessing specific websites like facebook or twitter for a certain amount of time. This allows you to focus on your work because you don't have another option. In some of the research I found, I also saw a recurring theme of "one step at a time". If you think of everything you have to do as one big impossible challenge, you'll just go to sleep or get online to avoid it. But if you make a list or just start doing what you have to do in small steps, it won't seem as bad as it did when it was all floating around in your head. Another thing I saw in my research was to work as a team; rely on each other. This helps me to know that I'm not alone in the struggle of procrastination- even if it's just a text to a friend in my class complaining about how hard our homework is. It helps to remember that I'm not the only one going through it, and that the task is doable. How else does everyone deal with procrastination? I could use advice myself.

http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2009/04/23/how-to-stop-procrastinating-7-timeless-tips/

http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/16/stop-procrastinating-efficiency-leadership-careers-organization.html

This article is basically the defniition of my life! In fact, I did exactly what you describe last week before my PL SC exam... instead of cramming I cleaned the kitchen, put away laundry and organized my room. I had free time all day, but when it was starting to become "homework hour" (which usually happens after dinner), I immediately made sure I was busy with other things.

I've always been like this. I think for me, it's not really a fear of failing or any kind of lack of self-confidence; rather, I work better under stress. I feel like stress is a type of motivation tool for me to get things done. The more stressed out I am, the more important an assignment or test seems to be. This year, it is starting to catch up to me. This is the first semester where the motivation aspect of stress has reached its threshold and is now at the point of diminishing returns. This article here seems to address THE OPPOSITE... that stress management, not increased stress, increases motivation. Perhaps I should take a cue from these people as they where successful enough to have their study published on the NIH website.

This article is basically the defniition of my life! In fact, I did exactly what you describe last week before my PL SC exam... instead of cramming I cleaned the kitchen, put away laundry and organized my room. I had free time all day, but when it was starting to become "homework hour" (which usually happens after dinner), I immediately made sure I was busy with other things.
I've always been like this. I think for me, it's not really a fear of failing or any kind of lack of self-confidence; rather, I work better under stress. I feel like stress is a type of motivation tool for me to get things done. The more stressed out I am, the more important an assignment or test seems to be. This year, it is starting to catch up to me. This is the first semester where the motivation aspect of stress has reached its threshold and is now at the point of diminishing returns. This article here seems to address THE OPPOSITE... that stress management, not increased stress, increases motivation. Perhaps I should take a cue from these people as they where successful enough to have their study published on the NIH website.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3372561/

Oh my! Your poor, poor wife. How does she put up with your procrastination? Perhaps you should read through this page on structured procrastination and develop some new life skills to help you get through that - it may even come in handy as an Army Officer! ;)

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Alcohol and Energy Drinks
We've all heard of Four Lokos (or "blackout in a can") and the drama surrounding them when they first came…
It isn't up to the Keratin
Many girls who have naturally curly, wavy, or frizzy hair have started looking into getting keratin treatments at their local…
It isn't up to the Keratin
Many girls who have naturally curly, wavy, or frizzy hair have started looking into getting keratin treatments at their local…

Old Contributions