The Vigornia Advises: Procrastination

Emma Macintire

AP exams, finals, and the last stretch, oh my! Just like lions, tigers, and bears, the end of the school year seems daunting. As we near the last few weeks of the 2020-2021 school year, some of you, including myself, may start to feel overwhelmed. Many pressures, such as holding your grades up until summer or unfinished work that needs completion, come out of hibernation.

We recognize that school can be stressful for everyone, but it is also important to keep pushing, so in this article we will explore the basics of procrastination and, if you do feel yourself struggling in this way, provide you with some tips that may help you get back on your feet.  

What is procrastination?

Before we embark on a journey to combat procrastination, it may be helpful to fully understand what it actually means. According to the standard definition, procrastination means to act against your better judgement by delaying a set of tasks. But, why do we procrastinate?

Some sources have found that the brain loves immediate satisfaction rather than long-term rewards. For example, you may find yourself performing smaller tasks while pushing off your history essay for the next day.

Others have said that emotional management is a large contributor. Whether there is something unpleasant about the task itself or a person experiences perfectionism-induced anxiety related to the task, putting it off gives an immediate sense of relief.

In my personal experience, I feel that both answers are justifiable. We procrastinate to avoid these negative emotions and in the process this immediate procrastination feels like a reward, but in all cases, this thought process leads to a vicious cycle of heightened anxieties.

Is procrastination the same as being lazy?

Contrary to popular belief, procrastination does not mean that you are lazy, but rather shows how humans cope with emotions. Once again, negative moods surrounding a certain task can be debilitating, and it often feels the only relief in that moment would be to procrastinate. 

What are some ways to start getting focused?

One of the biggest challenges, I find, is motivation. Once I find that motivation, I am set on my way to success, but if not, the night before an assignment is due will be one of great stress.

The first step is to recognize that you are procrastinating and understand why. After understanding your mental block, the next step would be to find the smallest and least overwhelming action you could take to move forward with the task at hand. It may be creating the google doc, writing your name on your paper, or starting to read the first sentence of your textbook. Motivation always follows action, and after that first dip into the ice cold water, you will be well on your way to finishing your task.

What are some tips to overcome procrastination?

    1. Take baby steps. With any habit, it takes time to immediately change your ways. One option could be to work for thirty minutes and then take a five minute break, repeating until you have completed enough for the day. Knowing your limits is especially important to not completely overwhelm yourself in this process.
    2. Make your temptations more inconvenient. Whether it be to lock your phone for an amount of time or to leave the house to focus, try to make anything that you want to procrastinate with less accessible. 
    3. Self-compassion and forgiveness. Forgiving and nurturing your mindset is more productive than constant shame.  
    4. Find a reward more attractive than avoidance. Procrastination is tempting, yes, but if we know now that the brain responds well to more immediate rewards, then finding a reward that suits you after a hardworking session may help to chip away at procrastination. 
    5. Do the things you love while working. For example, watching television while cracking away at a worksheet. Anything that you feel will keep you active while also not distracting you may be helpful.
    6. Work with a friend. Ask for help from a friend who will be sure to keep you on track. In that way, you will be motivated to not disappoint them. Even just being around the presence of a trusted friend may help boost your mood.

At the end of the day, this information is just the basics. The Vigornia advice page plans to do more with the subject of procrastination and the questions that surround it. As always, feel free to submit any questions to the Vigornia directly or comment right on this article. 

Sources

Lieberman, Charlotte. Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do with Self-Control). 25 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/smarter-living/why-you-procrastinate-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-self-control.html. 

The Mind Tools Content Team By the Mind Tools Content Team, et al. How Can i Stop Procrastinating?: Overcoming the Habit of Delaying Important Tasks. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_96.htm. 

Procrastination: A Brief Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating. 11 Nov. 2020, jamesclear.com/procrastination.