by K R I S T E N L E E
Most students have probably experienced this scenario. The deadline for your assignment is next week. Though you constantly remind yourself to work on it, in the blink of an eye, it’s the day before the assignment is due and you still haven’t begun! If you realize that this has become a recurring pattern, then chances are, you are suffering from procrastination, which, if undealt with, will affect your sleep cycle, grades, and social relationships.
Identifying the root causes of procrastination brings us to Sigmund Freud who first attempted to link procrastination to poor toilet training. Subsequent psychodynamic theorists would explain procrastination as a way of subconsciously fulfilling a perverse need for self-defeat. They say, if you believe you are fundamentally flawed, you seek a way to ensure complete failure. However, in recent psychological studies, there has been a shift towards classifying procrastination as a motivational dynamic over the traditional inner-oriented view. Rather than viewing procrastination as a result of low self perception, procrastination is now increasingly viewed as an issue with motivation.
In 2018, German researchers Axel Grund and Stefan Fries conducted a study that used a series of questionnaires asking participants to list five tasks they had done each day and to rate the extent to which these tasks were completed because the participants ‘wanted to’. Those who rated their tasks highly on willingness also, unsurprisingly, completed more tasks, versus those who were fulfilling obligations delegated to them. Those who found fewer of their activities as determined by their own interest also procrastinated at a higher rate.
Procrastination is an issue in which students all over the world face, especially when facing major projects, exams, or other obligations. In PAS, this problem is one in which many of our students can identify with. Christina Chang (11), explained: “I procrastinate because I’m used to procrastinating, and it helps me focus. I feel tempted to avoid homework, so I do it at the last minute.” Nevertheless, she acknowledges that procrastination is a double-sided sword; “[because of procrastination], I tend to not have enough time to complete my tasks, or I have to rush through it.” Jillian Wu (10) also provided insight on why she procrastinates: “[I procrastinate because] The homework is hard to deal, or requires too much research. Sometimes, I just don't feel like doing it.” Of course, she acknowledges that procrastination has also substantially affected her life. “Because of procrastination, I go to bed late, or have to submit rushed work.”
An increased understanding of procrastination and its root causes may just be the stepping stone students need to help mitigate the issue. By identifying your interests and undertaking activities and projects related to your passion will definitely help in preventing procrastination, raising productivity, and contributing to your general wellbeing. To be the best version of yourself, stop procrastinating… and maybe start on that assignment you have next week!