Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Procrastination: Why do we do it?

Why do we procrastinate?

With exam week (for me) just around the corner, I thought this might be a good topic to cover :)

Bad Things About Procrastination:
1. Your work is often sloppy.
2. It stresses you out.
3. People feel you are undependable.
4. The free time you gain is not enjoyable because of #2.
5. You develop bad habits for future education.

Good Things About Procrastination:
1. ...
2. ...
3 ...
4. ...
5. ...

So...I repeat:

WHY DO WE PROCRASTINATE? There's really nothing to be gained by it. Sure, you gain temporary free time, but there's always that little itch in the back of your mind that says "but remember, you still have an entire semester's worth of biology to cram into tomorrow"...And people stop trusting you to get your work done on time. I mean, maybe you always manage to pull together an A (*cough* ...like me... *cough*), but you and the people around you are constantly on edge, wondering if you'll make it this time. It's exciting for sure, but not healthy.

Let's look into psychology...

According to Dr. Kevin P Austin, "Most people assume that the reason that they procrastinate is because they lack will power....The reality is that people who procrastinate demonstrate quite a lot of will power for certain things. It is only when they experience emotional conflict about what they have to do that they procrastinate and the question of will power becomes an issue."

Dr. Austin suggests that people avoid doing a task because there are emotions involved that they don't want to feel. Maybe you'd rather NOT KNOW how deep you're sunk in chemistry. Maybe doing your chores feels like you're BEING CONTROLLED by your parents. Maybe you think sorting things out with your friend will just cause you MORE PAIN.

Dr. Austin goes into a lot of detail about the different categories of emotional struggle, but somehow I get the feeling you'd rather see the big picture ;) If you DO want to read his whole article, click HERE.

Greg Frost, another doctor of psychology, sums up procrastination in three simple reasons:

1. Perfectionism - "Some people have unrealistically high standards and expectations, and this causes them to procrastinate as they feel that they do not have the skills and abilities that are needed to complete it satisfactorily."

2. Anger - "The feelings of anger and resentment against them [your superiors, the ones who assigned the project] can translate into an unwillingness to do what they have assigned you to."

3. Negative thinking - "These are the people who constantly harbour thoughts that they are not good enough, or that they always fail, and are probably just stupid and incapable."

Which one are you? Well, I fall into the category of perfectionist to some degree. Everything I do has to be perfect, and the first time, too. My motto:

"If at first you don't succeed, hide all evidence that you ever tried."

My fear isn't that I cannot complete the project satisfactorily, though. Honestly, I know I can do stuff pretty well. Then I lean toward Dr. Autin's theory, that there are some emotions (being overwhelmed) I'd rather not feel/deal with.

So there you have it. We procrastinate not because it causes something GOOD, but because it avoids something BAD.

Categorize yourself, figure out why you procrastinate. Then (if you WANT to), you might be able to start turning in your homework/doing your chores/calling your friend on time.

Info taken from:
- Counseling Center
- Enzine @rticles


Bethany said...

hehe...procrastination is not something I have to worry about... ;D *as I look at my to-do list of theatre things I should have sorted out days ago*

hope your exam goes well, is it the biology one?

JT Norlander said...

Good post.
I think a crucial thing you left out though is God.
When we refuse to do what we are given to do, that in an of itself is a form of rebellion against whoever gave us the work and God, who told us to obey our earthly authorities.
And your three bullet points are also little pieces of rebellion against God in and of themselves. We cannot be perfect, yet we strive for perfectionism on our own merit, and don't trust that God will do His will in our life.
We feel anger and resentment towards those over us, even though God has commanded us to respect and obey them until the day comes when they give us a order that goes directly against God's Word.
We have negative thinking, which goes against everything God has ever said about being joyful in Him, and just trusting and having faith in Him. Yes, a time comes when we need to be realistic. I'm a self professed Realist. I'm not going to overtly optimistic about stuff that needs to be serious, and I'm not going to be pessimistic over something that deserves to be rejoiced over. I think that's how God wants it. "There is a time for all things under heaven".

Sorry if this is very long.

Kendra Logan said...

Bethany: Lol :P

JT: Yes, God is a given. I took the three points from a doctor in psychology, so I just took what he said and didn't elaborate too much. Of course everything does ultimately come down to God :)

In the more immediately-useful sense, though, I just talked about the practical applications. I'm not in any way saying that God *isn't* practical, definitely not. I'm just saying that at least for me, I like to hear the black and white facts and then put God into it...Does that make sense? Ooh, probably not...

Kyle Hendricks said...


I'm a 3. D:

Well now I'm gonna stop procrastinating and GET TO WORK!

Muse of Randomness said...

I believe I would be a mixture of one and three. I wish I could be perfect, or as close to it as humanly possible, which I am far from, but I'm always bringing myself down, thinking that'll never happen, not even close.

Ellie B... said...

ah kendra what about laziness and just flat out dreading it..so you put it off? Call me dense but, I really don't think this subject is too complex.

Kendra Logan said...

Kyle: Haha, aw :( NO BAD THOUGHTS! ;)

Muse: Aw :-/ Yeah, I can be a little of three, too, but mostly just one, lols :)

Ellie B: Experts don't classify laziness as "procrastination". Apparently, being lazy is more of a temporary thing than procrastination, which is actually a psychological "disorder". As for the dreading it, that would fall into Dr. Austin's analysis.

ciaraaaa:) said...

awesome post! so true.

you've been tagged :D



Logan said...

I try to make a weak argument for an advantage to procrastination. I sometimes work best with my back against the wall. If I feel like time's running out on a task, some part of my brain kicks in and makes me really efficient...

I DON'T think procrastination should be a habit, but sometimes it forces us to work HARDER and think more clearly than we normally would...

Maybe I'm just saying this because I'm lazy and I do it all the time


Ellie B... said...

kendra: well maybe "experts" should go to an average highschool. lol! Luv ya kendra! But what kind of friend would i be if i just always agreed? :)

Anonymous said...

i haven't read dr austin's analysis, but i think i procrastinate (and how) because of that "avoiding a bad feeling" thing. i'm just plain lazy, but in this case, to be more specific, i probrably procrastinate school work, for example, because i totally dread studying >_<

interesting post