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Procrastination: An Inevitable Enemy

by Juliana Wylygan


October 18, 2018 | Voices

Artwork by Daylen Conserve

Backpacks slung lazily over their shoulders and books clutched leisurely to their chests, Victoria King, Sheridan Desabrais, and Alessandro de Pascale trudged through the Dawson cafeteria together. With evident looks of lethargy and exhaustion, they take a seat at a vacant table in the corner of the spacious cafeteria among the groups of students, tirelessly cramming for exams and quickly typing on their keyboards.

The mood for this school year is the same as every year – endless work, a constant grind. If students can agree on two things, it's this: exhaustion is practically inevitable during the semester and procrastination is just one of the leading causes as to why fatigue is so prominent in students, especially those who attend college. So, why do students procrastinate so much? Or better yet, why do we, as students, wait until the last minute to do our work even when we know it introduces more stress into our already busy schedules?

“Honestly, I don’t know why I do it,” reveals Victoria King, a Dawson student studying psychology. “I just can’t bring myself to do what I need to do because I know I still have time to work on it.”

We have all been slaves to procrastination at least once in our lives. Whether it was waiting until the night before to complete an assignment you had a whole week to work on, submitting a report at 11:58 p.m. or sloppily writing notes on Q-cards fifteen minutes before your presentation, it happens to the best of us – especially college students. According to a study published by University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel, around 80% to 95% of college students procrastinate. So, if you think you are alone when it is 1 a.m. and you are drowning in regret for not completing the assignment sooner, find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

However, from the psychology behind procrastination stems a whole new discussion on whether the reasons for waiting until the last minute to finish homework are based simply on laziness or something deeper than that.

“Graduate students worry about performing inadequately or fear their success may raise others’ expectations of them,” Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University in Chicago explains in a video. Most, if not all of us, have directly experienced the strain that students go through to consistently maintain a high standard regarding our work. This is why the thought of writing an essay or a simple response to a text can seem inordinately exhausting. The pressure we impose on ourselves to always be better than the best becomes burdensome.

Each student has various reasons as to why procrastination is something they always fall back on, even when they know they should not. “I don’t feel motivated until it’s the last minute because I know I have to do it then,” Sheridan Desabrais, a Dawson student in the Civil Engineering program shares her motives behind procrastination as she, ironically, rushes to complete an assignment she negligently delayed. “I always tell myself it’s so easy to do and that I’ll have time to do it, but then [assignments] just pile onto each other so quickly.”

“It’s hard to break the habit,” Victoria continues, “and much like any habit, it takes a while to escape its addictive, comfortable routine, whether it’s good for you or not – but, it isn’t impossible.”

“I don’t see a reward from doing it at an earlier time anyway,” Alessandro de Pascale, a Dawson Psychology student, laughs as he admits what most of us can relate to. “Although, I think providing yourself a reward system can help reduce procrastination – if you complete an assignment, reward yourself with something.”

“Start it earlier so you’ll have something to lean on, then plan it out in a calendar to finish gradually,” Sheridan suggests. “Setting reminders helps a lot, too.”

Whether it’s because of the adrenaline rush, the lack of impulse, the fear, or the confidence in procrastinating, it is obvious there is something we love about procrastination. However, the ability to push past delaying assignment lies within ourselves.

“The frustration is not that they couldn’t achieve their dreams; it’s that they weren’t even able to start chasing them,” Tim Urban states in a TED Talk. So, this is your sign; get off your bed, couch, put down your phone, laptop, or anything that’s preventing you from completing the assignment you are putting off right now, and just do it… or maybe after one more Friends episode.

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