Today, practically everyone knows the term “procrastination,” which dates back to the Oxford Dictionary of 1548. You’ve definitely found yourself putting off important tasks that had to be completed yesterday.
Here is how to handle it.
Students are particularly prone to procrastination. A study conducted by the write my paper service WritingAPaper showed: 56% of students face a moderate degree of procrastination, 27% face a high degree, and only 16% have almost no problems with it.
Procrastination from a Scientific Point of View
Procrastination is often called laziness, but this is incorrect. The scientific definition of procrastination is as follows:
Ignoring and putting off tasks, cases, and errands, leading to difficulties in studying or working, as well as unpleasant psychological effects.
A person suffering from procrastination gets no pleasure: even if they rest, take a walk or spend time with their family, important tasks hang over their head like the sword of Damocles and poison all joy.
Scientists believe there is no such thing as laziness at all. More precisely, the term does exist, but no parts of the brain could generate such a state.
Because there is no such thing as laziness, the procrastination mechanism indicates a strong resistance inside a person to planned action. For example, mentally, they understand that they should lose weight and start going to the gym on Monday, but such factors come into play:
- Fear of being in the same room with more beautiful people.
- Fear of ridicule.
- Fearing that it will not work.
- Unpreparedness to make such a drastic change in my life.
As a result, Mondays pass one after another, but nothing changes.
A person is surprised at how lazy and slack-jawed they are! But the first thing to do is to find out the real cause of procrastination and eliminate it, and then take action.
The same applies to students who skip classes or sabotage their credits with fantastic persistence and are often more innovative than their classmates.
Causes of Procrastination among Students
The degree of procrastination does not depend on the major or the general direction of study: things are put off both ways.
Let’s look at the true causes of this phenomenon in students.
The Fear of Failure
Here procrastination develops through the mechanism of anxiety. The brain of an anxious person literally cannot be in uncertainty – for them, it is a tremendous stressor.
Even though events can develop in any way, the nervous student will see the worst-case scenario everywhere, which is easier to sabotage immediately.
What is the point of making an effort if the outcome is already clear?
If such people do manage to graduate, they start disrupting interviews because they know full well that recruiters will choose another candidate.
In contrast to the fear of failure, learned helplessness works not as an active anxiety but a depressive beginning.
A person drifts with the flow and gets used to the fact that they are not successful, so they do not even try to change anything.
This can happen to a student who repeatedly receives a bad grade, although they prepared well for the class. The tendency to depression exacerbates the perception of failure, and the person sees them as a pattern.
Most often, with learned helplessness, people understand perfectly well what they have to do and when (for example, they have to pass a test strictly by the end of the month), but still do not find the strength to act. As a result, depressive states are only aggravated by feelings of guilt.
The Fall Reward
Our brain is designed to be ready to work only for a reward. The more meaningful the reward, the more enthusiastic the person will be about the work.
However, as time passes, the value of the same reward falls dramatically.
For example, a small child will gladly run an errand for sweets, a toy, or a small amount of money (remember your first earned money and emotions from it!), while an adult quickly gets used to even a high salary.
Students may have different motivations:
- Recognition of success by other people (classmates, professors).
- Future success (after the completion of online courses, a new exciting job is waiting for them).
- Inner satisfaction from their actions (they did everything as well as possible).
If none of the above motivations work, the student will be procrastinating. Probably the most common reason is an uninteresting major. It’s hard to motivate yourself to succeed in an entirely unexciting field.
A student prone to “perfectionist paralysis” knows exactly how the work should be done. Of course, it will not be possible to achieve perfection, and they know that, too, because they have tried it more than once.
Such a person would rather not even start because any activity leads to the wrong (for them) result.
Violation of Goal-Setting
In this case, the adult begins to act according to the child principle: they quickly light up with ideas, takes many goals, and start implementing the easiest and most interesting ones.
Important things pile up, and the student begins to complain about difficulties with concentration.
Remarkably, otherwise, people with the goal-setting disorder can behave responsibly and maturely. It’s just that they have a “scanner” running in their head, sharpened to look for new and exciting ideas.
How to Defeat Procrastination
The most straightforward and pointless advice is to take it and do it. A person is very well aware of what and how they need to do, but some of the mechanisms of the psyche inhibit the transition to action.
It is the same nonsense as to advise “not to be afraid” to someone who has aerophobia or “not to smoke” to a smoker.
Let’s Solve the Problem Step by Step
1. Identify the Cause of the Problem
Recognizing the problem and understanding it is already half the battle. For example, suppose a student realizes that they have “perfectionist paralysis” and realizes this in a moment of stupor.
In that case, the psyche has an opportunity to make a decision and still give a signal for action.
The same goes for fear of failure and other psychological causes of procrastination.
2. Do Things that Really Interest You
Uninteresting things do indeed take up a lot of resources. And if some cannot be avoided (payment of utilities, communication with the tax authorities), a job or study should be chosen based on their interests.
Even if you are already studying or have graduated from university, getting a new profession through the Internet is now possible.
3. Negotiate with Yourself
Based on the reason, try to negotiate with yourself.
- Do the job as well as I can, but not perfectly (perfectionist).
- Remember that the outcome is often favorable, and the odds are at least 50/50 (fear of failure and learned helplessness).
- Figure out why you’re learning (falling rewards).
- Identify the most important things to do and goals to achieve (goal-setting disorder).
4. Use Goal Setting and Time Management
Those tools that are just handy for other people are vital for procrastinators.
Use lists of monthly/weekly/daily goals and to-dos, and:
- Make a habit of writing down all the to-do’s and marking the completed ones.
- Establish a daily routine.
- Get up and go to bed around the same time.
- Determine a period of maximum productivity and schedule important tasks for that time.
- Develop your will (sports, different marathons) and learn to keep agreements.
- Try other methods of increasing productivity (e.g., the “tomato method”).
To get things done on time, reward yourself with free time, a gourmet meal, instead of fast food or sweets (it is better to cook yourself a delicious dinner), a walk, doing your favorite activity, and playing with your pet.
Procrastination is not just laziness but a violation of mental mechanisms. It leads to a permanent sense of guilt, powerlessness, and fundamental problems in learning and working.
Overcoming procrastination can be helped by realizing the situation, agreeing with yourself, using time-management and planning techniques, and finding exciting activities to take the main business of your life.
About the author
Debbie Bott is the content writer for the WritingAPaper service. She specializes in writing on self-help themes and investigating trending topics in self-development. In her free time enjoys she reading books and taking long walks.