PROCRASTINATION “Thief of time”

Introduction is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline.It could be further stated as a habitual or intentional delay of starting or finishing a task despite knowing it might have negative consequences. It is a common human experience involving delay in everyday chores or even putting off salient tasks such as attending an appointment, submitting a job report or academic assignment, or broaching a stressful issue with a partner. Although typically perceived as a negative trait due to its hindering effect on one’s productivity often associated with depression, low self-esteem, guilt and inadequacy; it can also be considered a wise response to certain demands that could present risky or negative outcomes or require waiting for new information to arrive.

Definition:- “To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness,”

“To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.

The 4 Main Causes Of Procrastination

  • A Fear of Failure. In my experience one of the most common causes of procrastination is a deep-rooted fear of failure. …
  • Excessive Perfectionism. Another common cause of procrastination is excessive perfectionism. …
  • Low Energy Levels. …
  • A Lack of Focus. …

 

 Prevalence

  • In a study of academic procrastination from the University of Vermont, published in 1984, 46% of the subjects reported that they “always” or “nearly always” procrastinate writing papers, while approximately 30% reported procrastinating studying for exams and reading weekly assignments (by 28% and 30% respectively). Nearly a quarter of the subjects reported that procrastination was a problem for them regarding the same tasks. However, as many as 65% indicated that they would like to reduce their procrastination when writing papers, and approximately 62% indicated the same for studying for exams and 55% for reading weekly assignments.
  • A 1992 study showed that “52% of surveyed students indicated having a moderate to high need for help concerning procrastination.”It is estimated that 80–95% of college students engage in procrastination, and approximately 75% consider themselves procrastinators.
  • A study done in 2004 shows that 70% of university students categorized themselves as procrastinators while a 1984 study showed that 50% of the students would procrastinate consistently and considered it a major problem in their lives.
  • In a study performed on university students, procrastination was shown to be greater on tasks that were perceived as unpleasant or as impositions than on tasks for which the student believed they lacked the required skills for accomplishing the task.
  • Another point of relevance is that of procrastination in industry. A study: The Impact of Organizational and Personal Factors on Procrastination in Employees of a Modern Russian Industrial Enterprise published in the Psychology in Russia: State of the Art journal, helped to identify the many factors that affected employees’ procrastination habits. Some of which include intensity of performance evaluations, importance of their duty within a company, and their perception and opinions on management and/or upper level decisions

Behavioral criteria of academic procrastination

Gregory Schraw, Theresa Wadkins, and Lori Olafson in 2007 proposed three criteria for a behavior to be classified as academic procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying. Steel reviewed all previous attempts to define procrastination, and concluded in a 2007 study that procrastination is “to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay. Sabini & Silver argued that postponement and irrationality are the two key features of procrastination. Delaying a task is not deemed as procrastination, they argue, if there are rational reasons behind the delay.

An approach that integrates several core theories of motivation as well as meta-analytic research on procrastination is the temporal motivation theory. It summarizes key predictors of procrastination (expectancy, value, and impulsiveness) into a mathematical equation.

Psychological perspective

The pleasure principle may be responsible for procrastination; one may prefer to avoid negative emotions by delaying stressful tasks. As the deadline for their target of procrastination grows closer, they are more stressed and may, thus, decide to procrastinate more to avoid this stress. Some psychologists cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. Piers Steel indicated in 2010 that anxiety is just as likely to induce people to start working early as late, and that the focus of studies on procrastination should be impulsiveness. That is, anxiety will cause people to delay only if they are impulsive.

Coping responses

Coping responses of procrastinators include the following

  • Avoidance: Avoiding the location or situation where the task takes place (e.g. a graduate student avoiding driving into the university).
  • Denial and trivialization: Pretending that procrastinatory behavior is not actually procrastinating, but rather a task which is more important than the avoided one, or that the essential task that should be done is not of immediate importance.
  • Distraction: Engaging or immersing in other behaviors or actions to prevent awareness of the task (e.g. intensive video game playing or web browsing). The subject is very sensitive to instant gratification and becomes absorbed in coping behaviors beyond self-restraint.
  • Descending counter factuality: Comparing consequences of one’s procrastinatory behavior with others’ worse
  • situations (e.g. “Yes, I procrastinated and got a B− in the course, but I didn’t fail like one other student did.”)
  • Valorisation: Pointing in satisfaction to what one achieved in the meantime while one should have been doing something else.
  • Blaming: Delusional attributions to external factors, such as rationalizing that the procrastination is due to external forces beyond one’s control (e.g. “I’m not procrastinating, but this assignment is tough.”)
  • Mocking: Using humor to validate one’s procrastination. The person uses slapstick or slipshod methods to criticize and ridicule others’ striving towards the goal.

Task- or problem-solving measures are taxing from a procrastinator’s outlook. If such measures     are pursued, it is less likely the procrastinator would remain a procrastinator. However, pursuing such measures requires actively changing one’s behavior or situation to prevent and minimize   the re-occurrence of procrastination.

Cultural perspective

According to Holly McGregor & Andrew Elliot (2002); Christopher Wolters (2003), academic procrastination among portions of undergraduate students has been correlated to performance-avoidance orientation which is one factor of the four factor model of achievement orientation. Andrew Elliot and Judith Harackiewicz (1996) showed that students with a performance-avoidance orientation tend to be concerned with comparisons to their peers. These students procrastinate as a result of not wanting to look incompetent, or to avoid demonstrating a lack of ability and adopt a facade of competence for a task in front of their peers.

Gregory Arief Liem and Youyan Nie (2008) found that cultural characteristics are shown to have a direct influence on achievement orientation because it is closely aligned with most students cultural values and beliefs. Sonja Dekker and Ronald Fischer’s (2008) meta-analysis across thirteen different societies revealed that students from Western cultures tend to be motivated more by mastery-approach orientation because the degree of incentive value for individual achievement is strongly reflective of the values of Western culture. By contrast, most students from Eastern cultures have been found to be performance-avoidance orientated. They often make efforts to maintain a positive image of their abilities, which they display while in front of their peers. In addition, Hazel Rose Markus and Shinobu Kitayama (1991) showed that in non-Western cultures, rather than standing out through their achievements, people tend to be motivated to become part of various interpersonal relationships and to fit in with those that are relevant to them.

 

Health perspective

To a certain degree it is normal to procrastinate and it can be regarded as a useful way to prioritize between tasks, due to a lower tendency of procrastination on truly valued tasks (for most people). On the other hand, excessive procrastination can become a problem and impede normal functioning. When this happens, procrastination has been found to result in health problems, stress, anxiety, sense of guilt and crisis as well as loss of personal productivity and social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. Together these feelings may promote further procrastination and for some individuals procrastination becomes almost chronic. Such procrastinators may have difficulties seeking.

Management

Psychologist William J. Knaus estimated that more than 90% of college students procrastinate. Of these students, 25% are chronic procrastinators and typically abandon higher education (college dropouts).

Behaviors and practices that reduce procrastination:

  • Awareness of habits and thoughts that lead to procrastinating.
  • Seeking help for self-defeating problems such as fear, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, poor time management, indecisiveness, and perfectionism.
  • Fair evaluation of personal goals, strengths, weaknesses, and priorities.
  • Realistic goals and personal positive links between the tasks and the concrete, meaningful goals.
  • Structuring and organization of daily activities.
  • Modification of one’s environment for that newly gained perspective: the elimination or minimization of noise or distraction; investing effort into relevant matters; and ceasing day-dreaming.
  • Disciplining oneself to set priorities.
  • Motivation with enjoyable activities, socializing and constructive hobbies.
  • Approaching issues in small blocks of time, instead of attempting whole problems at once and risking intimidation.
  • To prevent relapse, reinforce pre-set goals based on needs and allow yourself to be rewarded in a balanced way for accomplished tasks.

Making a plan to complete tasks in a rigid schedule format might not work for everyone. There is no hard-and-fast rule to follow such a process if it turns out to be counter-productive. Instead of scheduling, it may be better to execute tasks in a flexible, unstructured schedule which has time slots for only necessary activities. .

After contemplating his own procrastination habits, philosopher John Perry authored an    essay entitled “Structured Procrastination”, wherein he proposes a “cheat” method as a safer approach for tackling procrastination: using a pyramid scheme to reinforce the unpleasant tasks needed to be completed in a quasi-prioritized order.

Academic

According to an Educational Science Professor, Hatice Odaci, academic procrastination is a significant problem during college years in part because many college students lack efficient time management skills in using the Internet. Also, Odaci notes that most colleges provide free and fast twenty-four-hour Internet service which some students are not usually accustomed to, and as a result of irresponsible use or lack of firewalls these students become engulfed in distractions, and thus in procrastination.

 

  • Student syndromerefers to the phenomenon where a student will begin to fully apply themself to a task only immediately before a deadline. This negates the usefulness of any buffers built into individual task durationestimates. Results from a 2002 study indicate that many students are aware of procrastination and accordingly set binding deadlines long before the date for which a task is due.. Finally, students have difficulties optimally setting self-imposed deadlines, with results suggesting a lack of spacing before the date at which results are due. In one experiment, participation in online exercises was found to be five times higher in the final week before a deadline than in the summed total of the first three weeks for which the exercises were available.
  • Other reasons cited on why students procrastinate include fear of failure and success, perfectionist expectations, as well as legitimate activities that may take precedence over school work, such as a job.
  • Procrastinators have been found to receive worse grades than non-procrastinators. Tice et al. (1997) report that more than one-third of the variation in final exam scores could be attributed to procrastination. The negative association between procrastination and academic performance is recurring and consistent. The students in the study not only received poor academic grades, but they also reported high levels of stress and poor self-health. Howell et al. (2006) found that, though scores on two widely used procrastination scales were not significantly associated with the grade received for an assignment, self-report measures of procrastination on the assessment itself were negatively associated with grade.
  • Procrastination is considerably more widespread in students than in the general population, with over 70 percent of students reporting procrastination for assignments at some point.
  • A 2014 panel study from Germany among several thousand university students found that increasing academic procrastination increases the frequency of seven different forms of academic misconduct, i.e., using fraudulent excuses, plagiarism, copying from someone else in exams, using forbidden means in exams, carrying forbidden means into exams, copying parts of homework from others, fabrication or falsification of data and the variety of academic misconduct.
  • This study argues that academic misconduct can be seen as a means to cope with the negative consequences of academic procrastination such as performance impairment.

 

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