Procrastination- finding the way out

November 19, 2021by Editorial Team
To wait, or not to wait

The cliche reads thus: Time and tide wait for no man. But to make better use of time, one needs to know the reasons why time is not working out for him the way it should. No, it is not an astronomer's prophecy. It is sheer understanding by mindfulness and reason.

Procrastination, or the tendency to put off important work for a later time,  consistently impedes academic success of students and their general well-being. This is because it affects their time management skills along with the ability to manage their own actions. Apart from lower academic performance ( Steele et al, 2007), procrastination also leads to  increased stress (Sirois et al., 2003) and poorer mental health (Stead et al., 2010). Therefore, it is necessary to understand the causes and the factors that behind procrastination  to be able to reduce it.

What makes us procrastinate?

It is striking that despite knowing the potentially negative consequences, one still indulges in an irrational delay in completing tasks, which makes procrastination a self-regulated failure. Some of the most common reasons behind procrastination include fear of failure, criticism, low self-esteem and trouble in focusing. We also put off things either because we have too many other things on our plates or because we do not want to do them. Martin Luther King. Junior had said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” To reach a particular destination we should initially start by taking small steps. After all, it is a human trait which also ends up piling an unfair amount of guilt on the procrastinator. In fact, researchers such as Lay has matched procrastination with certain dominant traits viz. perfectionism, anxiety, agitation, dejection, and self-discrepancy. Procrastination is also strongly influenced by psychological factors, such as the low confidence in one’s own abilities to perform (Steel, 2007) and inability to cope with negative emotions that arise in challenging situations. (Dionne, 2016; Gagnon et al., 2016).

Ways to control

Procrastinators can curb their habit if they understand its causes, clear the misconception and seek ways of  prevention. This is possible with better self-control. While procrastinating is a very natural flaw we all share, it can get quite troublesome if it gets out of hand. 

One way to stop procrastinating is to break down the dreaded task into little steps. Understanding the value of time is very important. When we will realise the value of time it will prevent us from procrastinating and will help us to begin from ‘now’ itself.

Different interventions to reduce procrastination have focused on improving time management skills. Many of us may have had turned into master procrastinators during the lockdown, thinking there was ample time available to complete our tasks. However if one breaks the big task into small parts, these bits segments are individually manageable, and so the tendency to procrastinate can reduce as well.

On a slightly different note, would like to share that some researchers have also observed that procrastination is not always bad. It may, in some cases, train our minds in doing things at the last minute, that can even help in handling pressure in a better way.

About the authors

The article has been contributed by the following students from St. Joseph’ s High School, Matigara- Ahana Mallik, Meghna Biswas, Prashasti Mondal and Sreeparna Dutta Chowdhury. 

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