By Daniel Cobb
March 17, 2014
You had three weeks to work on this paper. The deadline has finally arrived. Weeks that should have been spent planning and researching were wasted away doing other, more important things, like watching the newest episode of “The Voice” or teaming up with your friends to play a few online matches of “Call of Duty.” Maybe you were too busy doing other homework that required more thought and preparation. Whatever the case, it’s clear that procrastination most likely played a part in this most unfortunate circumstance. Procrastination. It’s a dangerous habit to get oneself into, especially as a college student where essays, lab reports and exams seem to be waiting around every corner. “Procrastination usually involves a person who would be deliberately putting off a task or an event, either trying to finish it just at deadline or even going beyond,” Janice Mayer, an advanced practice registered nurse at Heartland Psychiatry, said. It’s a common occurrence among college students. There’s that one assignment that we just can’t seem to either fully comprehend, or care enough about, to put near the top of our to-do list. A few days later, the professor casually mentions its due date is on the horizon. Meanwhile, you’ve accomplished virtually nothing. Alex Luke, a biochemistry major at Missouri Western, claims to struggle with procrastination every now and then when tackling long-term assignments. “I would like to claim that I don’t procrastinate, but, yes, I do,” Luke said. “I think that it’s probably out of anxiety or paranoia; a feeling of uncertainty about the material.” Mayer claims this type of behavior is certainly common when it comes to tasks like homework; it’s something that students aren’t particularly fond of doing. “If the task is not something that the person wants to do, likes to do or one that they’re not comfortable doing, they may put it off,” Mayer said. “If the task is a harsh reminder of something, then they may put it off, because it may evoke an emotional feeling. There are a lot of things that we do because we need to do them, not because we always want to do them.” Procrastination may lead to lower grades or failure to complete an assignment altogether. Yet, it still remains a problem for many students. So, why can’t we learn from our failures and stop procrastination altogether? Mayer had an answer for that as well. “There are people who procrastinate because, in those last minutes, hours, days or what have you, they have increased adrenaline,” Mayer said. “And with increased adrenaline, they may be able to think quicker or have more energy to do it, so they use that energy to get a project done.” From there, it can become a process of positive reinforcement, according to Mayer. “Then, when they get rewarded, like the job is done or they got a good grade, that reinforces that feeling of, ‘Oh, maybe procrastination isn’t so bad because I do my good work then,’” Mayer said. She went on to explain how it can be very difficult to get rid of a habit of procrastination altogether. Though, learning from your mistakes and how to pace yourself is definitely a step in the right direction. “I’m a terrible procrastinator,” Mayer admitted. “I’ve learned over time to get better at it, to do more pacing, because I can’t do it anymore with the kind of energy I was able to do it when I was 20.” Then there are people like Tracy Whorton, a non-traditional communications major, who have learned to conquer feelings of procrastination. “If I have an issue, I generally deal with it, get it over with and it’s behind me,” Whorton said. However, with graduation creeping ever closer, Whorton admits that the ever popular “senioritis” may be her biggest adversary in this regard. “Since I am graduating in May, I find that I’m procrastinating more now,” Whorton said. “I have these different research topics that are due and I’m putting them off, and that’s not like me.” Procrastination is a strange habit that students are notorious for indulging in. It’s hard to learn from, and it could cost you your grade altogether. However, knowing more about a problem is one of the best ways to combat it.