Procrastination: The Good and the Bad

We have all been in this scenario: there was a deadline approaching, and you entered a limbo state where you knew you should be doing your assignment but kept switching between apps like Instagram and Netflix or falling down the rabbit hole that is YouTube.

Throughout our time in school, we have been told countless times not to leave any assignments until the last minute. By now we have familiarized ourselves with the anxiety or adrenaline rush derived from the consequences that come along with it. Yet we still do it.

Although the word “procrastination” itself is often associated with someone characterized as lazy, this may not always be applicable.

A 2013 York University case analyzing college students found that procrastination derives from the fear of disapproval. Therefore, a connection between procrastination and perfectionism is present.

To me, this explains the times I stayed up past midnight stressing as I re-wrote essays or changed another aspect about the work I had done that was due the next day. After years of being evaluated as a student through my grades, it seemed like the pressure was still on. In my mind I did not recognize this to be extreme, as I was trying to receive the best grade possible; when in reality, I was only putting more pressure on myself.

Now with the additional learning formats introduced by the University during the pandemic, I was able to take asynchronous online courses. Asynchronous learning lets students access their class’ instructional materials at any time without having a live video lecture. Prior to the pandemic, I think this would have sounded like a dream; now, I see that this allowed for more time to procrastinate by pushing off assignments for the next day.

Asynchronous learning is convenient for international students and students with schedules that would have conflicted with participating in a structured virtual meeting. Personally, I found that taking a class synchronously over Zoom is more motivating, as it still had that classroom interaction aspect despite being online.

In a way, procrastination can also be seen as a coping mechanism. Essentially, you do not want to come to terms with having to complete your work, so instead of doing it, you put it aside by distracting yourself with other things.

While this habit seems rather harmless now, it can develop into a vicious cycle that can progress to be worse as it follows you throughout your life. Fortunately, there are efforts that can be made to not only tackle procrastination, but also improve time management skills.

These include exercising regularly, sleeping well, working on your hobbies,  and listening to a motivational podcast. Maybe take a break from social media, catch up with friends on FaceTime, eat healthier, or keep a journal or schedule. Taking a break to go on a run around my local park was the most efficient for me as I am able to return to do my assignments with a clear mind.

Part of the college experience is finding ways to improve. Learning to efficiently manage your time can go a long way. After all, the start of a new year is the perfect time to begin on a clean slate and overcome procrastination to conquer the semester.


PHOTO TAKEN by Shannon McGorty