Have you mentally prepared yourself to stay fully committed to a task or chore, and then found yourself checking social media, switching on the TV, or engrossing yourself in a variety of other activities that have nothing to do with your original plan? Have you ever had something on your to-do list that has been put off for days, weeks, or even months?
For most people, procrastination is something that hinders them from completing the essential tasks in their lives quickly and efficiently. Procrastination is a slippery slope and often can cause “victims to fail out of school, perform poorly at work, put off medical treatment or delay saving for retirement.” Although procrastination existed in humans for generations, the reasons we procrastinate are vaguely understood. Some researchers see procrastination “as a failure of self-regulation — like other bad behaviors that have to do with a lack of self-control, such as overeating, a gambling problem or overspending.” Others say it is just laziness and poor time management.
While there have been many diverse studies on the science of procrastination, it is not difficult to understand that the more you procrastinate, the more stressed you will be. This trend is largely apparent in high school and college students, people who have grown up in a new world of technology, social media and other distractions to keep them focusing on what’s necessary.
As a high schooler, I procrastinate frequently. I will sit down to do homework, take a deep breath in order to focus on the job ahead, and then find myself checking Snapchat or surfing the web. Every Sunday night I create a to-do list for the week, adding to it throughout the week, yet I often find myself putting things off for later. Sometimes, “later” takes a significant amount of time, even if the task is something as simple as sending an email that takes less than ten minutes. I understand that this happens to everyone, but why does it have to be so hard? What can us humans (especially students) do to limit the endless pit of procrastination that we all find ourselves in?
Most people procrastinate because they don’t see the long term consequences of their actions. James Clear, an author on many topics relating to breaking bad behavior, notes that “you cannot rely on long-term consequences and rewards to motivate the Present Self. Instead, you have to find a way to move future rewards and punishments into the present moment. You have to make the future consequences become present consequences.” In doing so, you are taking action and therefore reducing the stress and anxiety of procrastinating. If you continue to take action, you will have a less difficult time beginning your work and will continue to stay motivated throughout the process.