Who said New Year Resolutions could only be written before the new year begins? Well, according to WikiPedia, a New Year’s Resolution “is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings. People committing themselves to a new year’s resolution plan to do so for the whole following year”.
One resolution that I have never considered is to do work, or in my case, academic activities, in advance instead of waiting for the last minute. If there is no clear deadline, I will delay and do what I please because I am an academic procrastinator. According to a research study conducted by Flett, Hewitt, Davis & Sherry (2004), procrastination is difficult to grasp because every procrastinator exhibits different traits. Yet, it appears that our health and well-being is connected to procrastination (Ferrari, 2011) so procrastination is very serious. Our freedom is often highjacked by delaying activities because we constantly think about what we need to do. It never leaves us in peace. So why do we do postpone things and how do we stop procrastinating when it comes to instruction and learning or what is referred to as “academic procrastination?”
Briefly, what is academic procrastination, who is involved and how is it different from other kinds of procrastinations? A quick search on Google will reveal lots of information on two kinds of procrastinations: chronic and work-related. For our purposes, academic procrastination is work-related. The two are not the same because they delay different things for different reasons. For example, an academic procrastinator is either a student or teacher who delays things connected with school. Does putting things off for later make us chronic procrastinators? The answer is no. A chronic procrastinator delays everything in life most of the time as a way of life (Ferrari, 2011). On occasion, it is considered normal to delay things because they may be unpleasant to do or someone forced us to do them and we rebel (Ferrai, 2011).
There are a few suggested reasons for procrastination. Fear of failure is the key motivator Ferrari, 2011). Other reasons people delay activities are because they are “unpleasant, boring, or difficult” (Milgram, Sroff & Rosenbaum, 1988). A final motivator is the challenge of beating the clock (Ferrari, 2011). The excitement and the adrenalin that is released due to doing things at the last minute do not always work because the habit may cause anxiety that could lead, in a vicious cycle, to chronic procrastination.
As Ferrari explains, 20% of the people worldwide are chronic procrastinators. Ferrari (2011) is concerned because the number of chronic procrastinators is higher than the number of people who suffer from depression or phobias. It appears that people with chronic procrastination are less inclined to seek psychological treatment than those with anxiety, depression, or phobias.
How widespread is academic procrastination and can it become chronic? According to statistics, 75% of college students are academic procrastinators (Ferrari, 2011). That is a large number of students when you consider that 20% of those students will probably become chronic procrastinators as they transfer the habits into their personal lives (Ferrari, 2011). In short, academic procrastination is a dangerous habit that must be broken.
Time management may not be the key to dealing with the habit of academic procrastination (Ferrari, 2011). Time is relative; it generally manages us and not the other way around. We need to manage ourselves and do whatever it takes to be actively involved in doing something related or unrelated to the task that needs to be done. It may seem that we are off course, but in most cases, we are on course. In fact, we may enrich the task with our active diversions, as long as we are actively moving in the direction of the deadline. So start early, do whatever it takes to be active, and try to submit your work in advance and reward yourself with a pat on the back. Congratulations, you did it!
Ferrari, J. R. (2011, Winter). One researcher’s journey seeking the causes & consequences of chronic procrastination. Eye on Psi Chi, 15(2), 18-21.
Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Davis, R. A., & Sherry, S. B. (2004). Counseling the procrastinator in academic settings.(pp. 181-194)Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association Schouwenburg, Henri C. (Ed); Lay, Clarry H. (Ed); Pychyl, Timothy A. (Ed); Ferrari, Joseph R. (Ed), (2004).
Milgram, N. A., Sroloff, B., & Rosenbaum, M. (1988). The procrastination of everyday life. Journal of Research in Personality, 22, 197–212.
New Year’s resolution. (2011). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 3, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_resolution