Disease of Procrastination / by Krista Boivie

According to Psychology Today.com more than 20% of people classify themselves as chronic procrastinators, and more than 70% of college students consider themselves procrastinators.  But they continue to say that procrastination is a learned skill that can be changed.  (I'm glad there is hope for me!) 

Psychology Today had five lies we tell ourselves which feed into our procrastination and eight tips to try and correct our behavior.  Of the five lies, the one below I think is the most telling.

They mistakenly think that succeeding at a task requires that they feel like doing it.
— Hara Estroff Marano

I normally gauge my interest level in an activity with the speed at which I will accomplish it--so this lie fits right into my procrastination schema.  Often times in the pursuit of my goals I keep putting off trying new activities/hobbies by distracting myself with less important tasks (ie: checking email, cleaning, etc.)--always telling myself that eventually I feel like completing the task.  

Here are five of my own tips to help me break the procrastination cycle.

  1. When possible, only say yes to activities and projects that I am truly interested in.
  2. The more uninterested I am in a project, the sooner it must be done.
  3. Set hard deadlines for myself (even if there is none attached the project).
  4. Have firm punishments should I attempt to not meet my deadline.
  5. STOP COMPLAINING - I know I often spend more time complaining about completing a task than actually completing the task.

Procrastination has been a huge issue for me and especially for my students. As an educator, nothing irritates me more than when I have given my students ample time (both inside and outside of class) to complete a project and then they fail to turn it in, or the quality of their work is sub-par.

Today was no exception, I had a huge project due in one of my classes and out of the 12 groups only 2 groups turned in a completed project.  My decision to hold firm to the class rule of "No Late Work", means that the other 10 groups failed their project.  In this case, I hate being the bad guy--but I know they will never learn their lesson until they feel the pain of their consequences.

How do you deal with procrastination?