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Self Control…Get Some.

As I sat here in the library as I have been for 3 hours, trying to finish this essay that was “due” a week ago, I began wondering why I procrastinate as much as I do – I mean yes mostly because I have the attention span of a 4th grader, but I wanted to understand procrastination from a more scientific perspective. I started doing some Google searches and found a stockpile of psychology articles, all giving lists of reasons why people procrastinate, many of which included: poor impulse control, poor planning skills, lack of self-confidence, and reduced use of meta-cognitive skills; none of which are all too flattering. But personally, I don’t really see too many of those qualities in myself, so I searched on. I came across a blog titled “Procrastination: A Basic Human Interest”, in which the author discusses his procrastination of writing a memoir, and while doing so he presents a question that I think pretty much summarizes the issue of procrastination. He asks, “Are there some things that aren’t really worth doing?”

Now in no way am I trying to say that this paper specifically isn’t worth doing, but do you guys think that the reason we procrastinate is be cause we don’t see a point in the assignment? Are we just being lazy teenagers? Or something more?  I would love to hear what you guys have to say … why do you think we procrastinate?

P.S. How do you all feel about this idea of no late penalties?  Personally I think it might be the death of me.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Sometimes, I think we are most productive in panic mode. If something was assigned 2 weeks ago, and is now due in 2 days, one tends to be productive I think we procrasinate because we don’t see the importance of the assignment right away. Once that deadline comes, once it needs to be done and ready to hand in, or once we realize that someone who has the key to our grades is going to be reading or grading out assignment, we get up off our ass and actually put effort thought and loads of caffine into our bodies and work. We aren’t lazy. Some of us actually are overworked. First semester of college, everything is new and exciting. We’re in a whole new world, so many things to do so many places to see, so many people to meet. We sign up for too many things, sometimes put alot on our plate, or walk litterally the extra 3 miles ( because cabs are expensive) to go out and venture. Sometimes those measly papers don’t add into our schedual once we realize the improtance. I think we procrastinate because we are of this age. This is the age to procrastinate, this is the time to live, work is important. it surly is. but i guess we dont see that right away.

  2. October 2, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    This is a very interesting topic to discuss. I think we all go through procrastination at some point or another. And I really hope what you say about being only “the age of procrastination” and that fortunately sophomore year all of this will go away. However I’m not really sure about this. I think that procrastination fits with personality and that it is in our nature. We only have to understand ourselves better and bring out that mature, worker that we have inside but it’s so hard to find.

    Another statement about the “amount of interest” that we put into an assignment: no one enjoys working, but we might find some assignments that have more interesting features for us as a person than others. And we will probably put more effort into that assignment…but that doesn’t mean we don’t procrastinate.


  3. October 2, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I do not think that procrastination is a problem only affecting teenagers. I have seen many adults procrastinate different things, it is just usually less easy to spot because they are not doing homework every night or writing papers. My parents would always procrastinate household chores or grocery shopping. It’s just something that many people (including myself) struggle with.

    As for the topic of whether or not procrastination is our way of subconsciously labeling things as “unimportant” (or even consciously so), I think that this could sometimes be the case but I also find myself procrastinating the things that are important. I guess that it all comes down to the question of, what exactly is ‘important’ in life? For some it is school and getting good grades so they can later be rewarded, and for others it is living their life presently and not always thinking about how to advance in the future. This is a balance that I often struggle with, but I do find myself procrastinating things in both categories. Unfortunately, I think that a procrastinator is sometimes just a procrastinator.

  4. October 2, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I too was distracting myself from this long overdue essay, switching between semi-relevant browser tabs of this blog, Twitter, Google’s science news, an episode of Doctor Who on Netflix, and a little gem from Stubleupon called Build Your Own Kaleidoscope (http://www.zefrank.com/dtoy_vs_byokal/), when I saw this post. Needless to say, I can identify. Even this comment, derailed by my inability to hyperlink the kaleidoscope page properly, is three days in the making now.

    In my head, procrastination is equal parts lethargy, aimlessness, and escapism. All in all, not my best light. Now it could just be a general proclivity, but I like to fool myself every once in a while and think that some of it stems not just from a lack of ambition or discipline but instead from a few psychological principles beyond my personal control.

    It can be feasibly claimed that identifying and mitigating procrastination is too mentally strenuous for the life styles of most students. If you ask most people, more often than not procrastination comes down to a lack of focus and priority. However, these both require the synthesis of new ideas, decision making, and the simplification of complex webs of “if, then” thinking making it one of the most cognitively exhausting tasks one can do. Now factor in that students, beasts of consistent fatigue, tend to try to complete their work later at night or, if they’re responsible, in the middle of the day after they’ve just been in class for hours. The brain drain we experience makes it nearly impossible to focus on things that require active attention. You know, as opposed to absorbing YouTube videos through some weird form of cognitive osmosis. Furthermore, procrastination is caused by an escapist drive, meaning the more you procrastinate, the more worried you become about the assignment, and the less you’re actually able to focus on and complete it; you just want to get on Facebook and forget the thing even exists. Now pile all of this on top of an assignment that you don’t really “get” or feel has no bearing in what you consider to be valuable work (ie: a Philosophy major in Advanced Calculus) or maybe just don’t like. It’s a recipe for disaster, shaken, not stirred.

  5. October 3, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I completely understand your dilemma. Also, I agree with Poojamistry!!! It can be that we work better in panic mode. When their are merely a few days or even hours left before an assignment is due, it is much easier to keep writing because desperation pushes you. The fear of missing the deadline give you the extra adreline needed to make things happen. Take, for example, commenting on the blog. Today is the last day for the third blog session and I chose today to do my comments. Meanwhile, I wrote an entire post and posted a week ago but because I didn’t want to sit still long enough to read a post and everyone else’s comments I put off writing my own. Its not because I was too busy, although I was, I simply put it at the bottom of my list of things to do. Why? Only because I get it done faster with the added adrenaline of panic. So by waiting I don’t have to do it when i don’t want to, I save time because I do it faster later, and it gives me something to talk about in this blog comment.

  6. October 3, 2011 at 1:46 am

    I know that I personally wait to the last minute to write my essays, not because of lack of interest or unimportance; but more because my brain works better that way. Some of my better ideas come from when I’m under pressure. If i could somehow apply that pressure earlier in the week before its due then I definitely would not wait till the last moment to do my essays. I know when it gets down to deadline, I get into a sort of trance where ideas just stream out; maybe its because I’m less restrictive in what i put down or because the pressure is getting to me, but it works for me. I like the idea of no late penalties because it gives me a bit of flexibility, but I still treat the suggested turn in date as the absolute deadline so I don’t wait to long to turn it in.

  7. October 3, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I definitely don’t think we’re just being lazy teenagers. I’m friends with a lot of “grown up” journalists and videographers, and they’re the worst procrastinators that I know. For my friends and me, procrastination is also a huge rush. It’s crazy exciting to be able to wait until the absolute last minute to start a project and still finish it by the deadline. So to me it’s not that tasks aren’t worth doing, it’s seeing how fast I can do them. Is that healthy? Probably not.

  8. October 3, 2011 at 2:21 am

    I am also a procrastinator, and as a procrastinator, I agree with pojamistry’s assessment of “I think we are most productive in panic mode.” I find I can get more things done when I know that I am working with a limited amount of time. However, I have to control that amount of time. For example, this past week, I came down with the virus that everyone seems to have been getting, and I fell REALLY behind in everything because if I wasn’t in class, I was sleeping. Because of this, a lot of assignments really crept up on me. So today I have been cranking out assignments and studying because I’m trying to catch up for this week in less than 24 hours.

    People can procrastinate not because they don’t see a point but because they have other things that are occupying their attention, whether it’s sports, friends, television, a good book, whatever. In high school, I was working down to the last minute on assignments during a sports season or when I was heavily involved in a club project because those activities took up a lot of my time and energy. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but that’s just how it was.

    Procrastination doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is lazy or has poor time management skills, although it does often infer the latter. Procrastination may just be the result of stretching oneself over many commitments.

  9. Sean
    October 3, 2011 at 3:12 am

    With procrastination I think you have to look at a couple of factors. One, people dont really like to work, especially on things that they know will be evaluted. I think self-confidence plays a huge role in procrastination because no body likes to have their actions and labor reviewed and scrutinized, so that fact makes it harder for people to get their work done.

    Also, our priorities play a major factor in procrastination. Its not necessarily that things aren’t worth doing, it has to do with the fact that we rank things higher in importance, and will do things of higher importance to us first. For a teenager, posting or checking faceboook is much more important to us than homework, so of course we focus on facebook than homework.

    Other examples are being too strecthed out, having no interest in what is needed to be done, etc. But I dont think it has to do with us being lazy, I think its just something natural that everyone does, and that it takes a lot of hard work and determination to break the habit.

    There is the famous saying, “Why do it today when you can put it off till tomorrow?”

  10. October 3, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I’m not sure if my procrastination goes along with what i feel is important or not. I feel like doing my readings for classes, whether scientific or literature is pretty important, and I don’t procrastinate doing it, probably because I know I won’t be able to understand what is going in class if I don’t do the readings before hand. Repetitive homework that seems pointless like math problems I don’t procrastinate because it will be the simplest to do. But writing assignments that I know I need to do to graduate, especially when there are so few such as in this class, I procrastinate an incredible amount.

    I even came close to not graduating high school because I procrastinated so much on the final paper of a class. Because of my procrastination, I ended up writing a 15 page paper in the last 48 hours before it was due: not a fun experience. But never the less, I can see it happen again because I habitually procrastinate papers.

    This will especially apply to this class and it’s papers. I already procrastinated a lot before doing and then turning in the last essay because I knew I would not lose credit. At least there are only a few papers and then multiple rewrites. I believed that would be easier to do than writing a brand new paper because I wouldn’t have to go through the planning process. But the teacher recently dropped the bomb on us that we may have to completely rewrite papers, so I’m not sure if I will procrastinate those as much as a normal paper.

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