September 2002
French articles
about SNN
magazine archives


Procrastination—I guess I could do it later…
By Pooja Raut, Grade 13, Marianopolis College, Montreal, Quebec

Imagine for a moment that it's really late at night. You've just gotten home from work but are too exhausted to study for an important chemistry test which is scheduled for the next day. You start blaming yourself for not having started studying earlier but then you realize that it's too late to change anything. You finally decide to wake up early the next day to study. Before you realize it, it's five in the morning and your alarm clock is ringing. You turn it off. You say to yourself that you'll sleep for just another five minutes before you start studying for that test. Instead, you end up sleeping for three whole hours! You miss your bus and are late for school. When you do get to class, it's time for the test. In the whole rush, you completely forgot to study. As a result, you fail the test. I'm sure many of you have experienced this or at least something similar.

You keep putting it off, moving it aside, reassigning it to the bottom of the pile. It nags and gnaws at you. It bugs you to the point of exasperation. You've put it off until the last minute, and then have to do it anyway. My diagnosis? Procrastination—the habit of needlessly delaying or putting off relevant activities until a later day or time. This word comes from the Latin verb procrastinare, which means belonging to tomorrow. Although procrastination isn't a disease, it is probably the single most common time management problem. Everyone procrastinates to some extent; however, students rank highly among those most likely to procrastinate. In fact, approximately 90% of students procrastinate. Of these students, 25% are chronic procrastinators and they are usually the ones who will end up dropping out of college. If you have a habit of only studying the night prior to tests or exams and waiting until the last minute to write essays or start projects, you may be a chronic procrastinator. You may not realize it but you're headed for a lot of trouble if you don't change this habit.

What causes us to procrastinate? Some reasons include: indecision, a lack of interest in the work, difficulty concentrating; the fear of failure and, ironically, the fear of success. Also, students usually have a lot of work to do and there is almost always something more interesting to do than working on assignments and studying (even chores can seem more fascinating all of a sudden!).

How can we avoid procrastinating? The ways are so simple. We can try to: complete unpleasant tasks first; break large jobs into smaller, more manageable ones; set deadlines for ourselves; maintain a focus on the end result; and remove distractions. The most important way to stop procrastinating is to make the effort to begin something, even if it just means sitting down at your desk and writing down your name and the date at the top of a blank sheet of paper (the one that is really supposed to have your essay on it). Once you get started, it will be much easier for you to finish. Another thing that helps to stop procrastinating is learning to prioritize activities, deciding what you have to do now and what you can do later on.

Avoiding this habit is great but what's the point of doing that if everyone procrastinates? Although many students claim they work better under pressure, research does not support this. In fact, students who procrastinate might score as much as 10% lower than if they didn't have this habit. For many people, that 10% can make the difference between passing and failing a subject. In short, putting things off has a way of ruling our lives, if we don't bring it under control. It may seem that procrastinating only affects us academically but that is not the case. Procrastination also has an effect on our physical and emotional health. Students who procrastinate are more likely to be sick as the end of the term draws near. Putting things off often leaves us feeling guilty, frustrated, anxious, weak, useless and out of control. Also, procrastination can make us miss deadlines, lose opportunities and especially waste valuable time. These are only some of the numerous reasons why we should all make the effort to stop procrastinating.

So now I ask you:

Do you want some peace of mind?

Do you want to do better in school?

Do you want to get back in charge of your life?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then I strongly recommend that you stop procrastinating...not tomorrow, not next week or next year but right now! (Keep in mind that after exams are over, we can sleep in all we want without having to worry about waking up early to study for a Chemistry test…that is, at least for a couple of months. So hang in there and good luck on those final exams!).

Back to Front Page