Advice Column Lifestyle Opinion Tips

The Science Behind Procrastination

Project due next week, and that temptation of another youtube video. Why do we procrastinate? How can we fix this?

Are you anxious about your early applications to your dream college? Maybe there is a new summative coming up. How far are you with the English reading? Please don’t tell me you’re still on chapter one. In the midst of this cataclysm, some of you might be organizing directories on your mac, trying out a new item build on online games, or just catching up with your newsfeed on facebook.

The scariest part about procrastination is not only that it might compromise the quality of your end products(School work and etc.) but also that it can happen to almost everyone. Even the most productive of us have fallen into the trap of temptation, delaying precious sleep for the next morning. Naturally, self evaluation follows.

Now, try not to be too hard on yourself. Procrastination is a spontaneous course of action – your brain’s automatic defense mechanism to your stress.  Hear out this guy:

“Psychologists see procrastination as a misplaced coping mechanism, as an emotion-focused coping strategy. [People who procrastinate are] using avoidance to cope with emotions, and many of them are non-conscious emotions. So we see it as giving in to feel good. And it’s related to a lack of self-regulation skills. … We all have a six-year-old running the ship. And the six-year-old is saying, ‘I don’t want to! I don’t feel like it!'” (Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada)

Based on his claims, we are repelling important work because we simply DO NOT want to work. On the other hand, there are different interpretations of procrastination.

According to a study published by Edward Jones (New York Times obituary) & Steven Berglas, procrastination is a type of self-handicapping to build an excuse for your poor performance.

“By finding or creating impediments that make good performance less likely, the strategist nicely protects his [or her] sense of self-competence” (pg 201).

“I had only two hours to finish this project. But, this does not prove my failure as a practical learner since I had a huge disadvantage!” This kind of attitude wins whether you succeed or fail. When you lose, your sense of competence is secured since you can externalize the blames on your procrastinating behavior. Of course, if you succeed, you can boost your self-confidence at enormous rate, because you have achieved something even when you were not in optimal condition.

A TED Talk from a famous blogger, Tim Urban makes a great explanation of the mechanism behind procrastinator’s brain.

https://embed.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator

Fortunately, however, procrastination is not a disease nor a condition. It is simply a habit that affects productivity. There are good ways to fight your demon.

  1. Accept that you have a problem. procrast2.jpgEvery first step to solving a problem is to recognize the existence of it. It might be hard but if you postpone your workload on a regular basis, you should start asking yourself if you are a procrastinator.
  2. Divide up the work and give yourself small rewards for doing each segment of it. proctast1.jpgBecause it is the motivation to do work that procrastinators are not good at gathering up, it is important to make big projects into less intimidating objectives. If ‘instant gratification’ is the reason behind indulging into digression, instant rewards for completion of work would be helpful to continue your overall progression. For example, you can divide your five paragraph essay assignment into five parts and give yourself 10 minutes of internet browsing for finishing each.
  3. Thing about the long-run consequences. procrast3.jpgThe danger of procrastination is not only the diminished quality of your work but also the sense of anxiety that comes along with the deadline. So, it is effective to raise alertness towards the negative consequences, which might hopefully raise the productive part of your brain from dead. In fact, these consequences are more or less real. Late submissions could lead to a failed grade (it is especially strict in KIS), and even expulsion if we are talking about an actual job.

This is not an easy battle. Plus, the devil can always crawl back under your skin without a polite notice. Of course, nobody is at fault if the work is just too much for you. When you are told to tame a dragon, wouldn’t most people run away instead? True, the dragon is a hard beast to tame. However, imagine how majestic it will be if you push yourself just a bit more.

– Paul Jeon (‘17)

(Featured images from neednudge.com, offbeat.topix.com, wikihow.com, and fortivoti.com in order)

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