Pull the plug on procrastination

Pull the plug on procrastination

Nitya Borra, Staff Writer

I’ll start my homework in ten more minutes after this episode ends. An hour goes by. Just need another 5 minutes to finish my video game because I can’t stop in the middle. Another hour passes by. Before I start my homework, I need to get a snack, and I’m also a little thirsty. I will quickly scroll on TikTok for a minute to see what my friends are posting. Wait, how is it already 12 AM? I swear I just got home from school…

Everyone puts things off sometimes, and many of us even deliberately look for distractions. An article published by Psychology Today in 2009 informs that for chronic procrastinators, who represent approximately 20 percent of the population, “I don’t feel like it” often takes precedence over their goals and can influence a downward spiral of continuing to put a responsibility off. 

Those who procrastinate are generally aware of their actions and the consequences, but changing their habits requires more time and hard work than engaging in a more pleasurable activity. For myself, it’s much easier to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls than spend an hour studying for my math test the following day. Even though I know that studying is the best use of my time, it can take a lot of work to avoid procrastination. 

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” said Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa. Many procrastinate because they want to immediately manage that negative mood or stress they feel about completing that task. These negative feelings might involve something unpleasant about the task—cleaning your bedroom or writing a long research paper.But it might also affect deeper feelings related to the task, like self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety, or insecurity. In this case, it’s important to seek professional help, such as counseling to find the root of your mental health struggles and improve them before these emotions become more prevalent in your daily lifestyle.

Procrastinating doesn’t necessarily cause drastic changes to one’s life. If you put off completing a school project until the due date, the worst that will happen is that you will receive a poor grade. However, procrastination can also lead to long-term negative health effects. For example, suppose you put off exercise, doctor appointments and commit to healthy eating. In that case, these forms of procrastination can lead to a higher risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It’s crucial to create healthy habits, such as setting aside time to exercise daily or creating a balanced food plan to avoid such risks.

Additionally, teens, more so than adults, tend to overestimate their ability to work under pressure, leading to procrastination. By continuing to avoid completing a task, it makes it easier to repeat the cycle. If the cycle continues, it becomes harder to avoid procrastination, especially in regards to strict deadlines and due dates. Procrastination affects students’ performance, grades, and even their overall health. Students who procrastinate experience higher levels of negative emotions such as frustration, guilt, stress, and anxiety. If these emotions are addressed, they could potentially lead to more serious issues like depression and other mental health disorders. 

Identifying your emotion is the first step to managing these feelings that lead to procrastination. After doing so, plan how you can make your temptations more inconvenient. For example, if you notice that you use your phone for hours on end everyday after school, try keeping your phone in a different location for a certain time period, so you can stay focused on getting whatever you need done. If you are unmotivated, try to identify your short-term and long-term goals. You can motivate yourself to get homework done by breaking up tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, so you feel less overwhelmed. Rewarding yourself once in a while and taking short breaks when completing a task, like homework, can keep you focused. 

Although dealing with procrastination can be challenging, it’s important to reflect on your behaviors and find your own solutions to avoid these temptations. Instead of spending your entire evening watching TV on your couch with a bowl of popcorn, you can now use that time to read a book. Create that passion project that you’ve been thinking about starting for months. Improve your health and well-being. Take advantage of creative opportunities. Maybe, you even set a world record. Now that procrastination isn’t holding you back, the limits to your productivity and newfound potential are endless.