It is 2:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, three empty cans of Monsters and a half eaten package of Oreos await beside a bean bag chair as fingers type furiously to complete the five page assignment due in seven hours. Every little thing is distracting, making the time creep faster. Six hours left, no sleep and only one monster left in the fridge. Pessimistic thoughts flow the mind as the questions roll in. How am I going to get this completed? What will happen to my grade? Why did I procrastinate? It is widely common, from middle-school students studying prepositions to seventh year college students preparing for their quiz over abdominocentesis. Most people see it as laziness; although,it is completely different. Procrastination deals with the perennial struggle of self control. This traps students into a false sense of security, illusing them that there is plenty of time to get the important things done, when in reality, there minutes are ticking away. Unfortunately, this illusion does not just put students in a time crunch, but also affects students for their future, weakening them in their planning skills, time management, self-accountability, while increasing strength in avoidance. To defeat this obstacle of avoidance behavior is to find the reason behind the procrastination, to adopt anti-procrastination strategies and to achieve the mentality to start and finish.
To control something, the causes must be known and resolved to get a positive result. In order to figure the cause of a procrastination habit, the causes of one’s own procrastination. Everyone has different reactions and causes of procrastination, but it all starts the same way. As a classmate sits in frustration staring at a five page paper due in three h, wondering why he procrastinated so long; his prefrontal cortex and limbic system are at an internal war, fighting each other to “get the assignment completed,” or “wait a little longer,” as life and productivity coach, Kirstin O’Donovan describes the situation. Due to some tasks not being overly engaging, the limbic system of the brain wants to take over, because it wants something more engaging, making it hard to stay focused on just one thing. Emotions are triggered during this war, so it is oneself’s mentality to work out these negative emotions. Instead of complaining how the project is so long and boring, try thinking about how the project can be broken into steps and taken to an interesting level. Make a list on common things that are personally procrastinated often. Then ask what makes this task so unwilling to seem uncompletable. Dispute these and think about how to overcome personal challenges. Thinking through these, will help explain why this task is difficult or unpleasant to complete, which will give a steady mindset on how to work out procrastination habits.
Habits are strong, meaning practice is key to beating the habit of procrastination. While working out why the causes of oneself’s procrastinating is helpful, having a couple strategies will immensely help strengthen the solution. As Oprah Winfrey quotes, “Even the smallest steps move you forward,” that is how procrastinators must take challenges. Breaking a task in chunks, as in a timely manner for task for five to ten minutes or doing bits and pieces at a time, would still get more done. Even persuading oneself that a task is small, as in thinking it is just one more chapter, equation, or paper, would decrease negative influences and give more willpower to complete the task. Motivation is typically the strongest at the beginning, so devour the frog first and continue to the next task. Motivation depreciates quickly and so does the appetite for that frog. Organization will help decrease the ugliness of the frog reducing the stress of the task, by making to-do lists, setting goals and project planning. Any anti-procrastination strategy can successfully complete a task from the start to the end.
A start and finish, without difficulties is a chore to complete. According to Newton’s first law, an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon an opposite force. This is the same for any task, assignment or project. That motivating start might be going fairly good, but once something interrupts that action, it is hard to start back up. Consider the weight loss program that was “forgotten” after two weeks, or the half-built shelf in the basement that no one had “time” for. As time goes by, things become challenging, not as fun, or the next step comes and turns into a grudge. Soon “I will get back to that,” will be a common phrase for that task. To finish a start, become aware of common habits and stopping points. Before considering a project, stop and think of the future. Think of the importance of the project and if it is really worth it. Ask if the project will have a high chance of completion due to schedule and motivation.If a negative thought or hesitation occurs in multiple answers, possibly reconsider this task. Plan out the task beforehand, make plans of what is to be done, the challenges to occur and how much effort must be put in. As a task, project, assignment is beginning, promise a reward. If the task is completed in a certain period of time, reward with a treat such as getting a snack or going to the best coffee shop in town tomorrow morning. Even ask someone to check up on the project after a certain amount of time, and maybe he could even help assist. A complete start and finish of a task is hard to accomplish, but it is made easier with rewards, peer checks, focus and self motivation.
Procrastination is a powerful wait that will turn a football Sunday night into a long night of homework that has been procrastinated for two weeks. Causes such as boredom, fear of failure, fear of success, challenge, and rebellion are all simple and common causes of procrastination, thus leading on numerous students daily. Overcoming or even defeating a piece of procrastination is a blessing in disguise. There are numerous ways, from facing the strengths and weaknesses of the mentality to making to-do lists. Procrastinating is easy, however it makes everything outside the prereferral a whole level harder. Letting procrastination build will eventually create an avoidance and negative aspect of assignments, tasks or even everyday things. It is never too early, nor too late to control this avoidance behavior. Oneself’s procrastination cannot be solved in one night, but finding the common causes of procrastinating, adopting anti-procrastination strategies and achieving the mentality to start and finish, is a way to tame the procrastination beast.