Do It!…Later

By Allison Miller

Whether it’s dealing with an English essay or a Halloween costume, most people have faced procrastination in their lives. Now, although some people may not understand this issue, as they get all their work done days before it’s due, they are the minority. Students, and even adults, must deal with this pressing problem, but why must they? Shouldn’t we be able to see that something needs to get done and then do it? We should, but we hardly do. As humans, we are swayed by what we want all the time. We argue to our brains that, “Of course we’ll get that thing done! I have another few days to get it started anyways!”, but before we know it, we’ve run out of more days. We need to keep our brains in check and work on not letting things go unfinished until the last second.

The human brain is completely amazing at thinking ahead and worrying about possible outcomes for various situations, but when it comes to doing something about those predicted scenarios, it isn’t as skilled. All people, though making many plans and talking about doing new things throughout the day, struggle with keeping up with their lives. We make plans to do things, or we tell someone we can do something for them when they need it, but we don’t immediately think about the follow through. The thought of not wanting to do whatever you’ve promised may cross our brains, but the long-term planning hardly does while the words are coming out of our mouths. People want to feel instantly gratified, which is why we seem to commit to things that make us feel good in the moment. However, the same effect takes place when we think about actually getting done whatever we’ve committed to. When we think about working on something, like an English essay for example, since it’s something we aren’t excited about doing, our brains get distracted by whatever else around us seems like more fun or less straining. For students, thinking about things like homework often does not pull up thoughts of happiness or fun. Since we don’t feel these emotions correlating with the work we need to do, we will choose to focus on something else almost every time. Every time, though, we will eventually end up running out of time.

One of the biggest problems with procrastination is that when the time comes for whatever we put off to be done, we still need to get this thing done. Since usually, it’s a large project that we choose to put off, we end up having to work overtime all night. When you have to do all the work intended to be spread out over three or four weeks, it will, needless to say, heap major amounts of unneeded stress on a person. Likely, a procrastinator will end up staying up much later than they usually would working on this thing that they’ve put off for weeks. With less sleep, the next day is going to be harder for this person, and since this project was worked on later at night than intended, it will not be his or her best work. In the end, a person who procrastinates will almost certainly be more generally stressed, be more tired the day after something needs to be done, and they will not put out their best work for whatever he or she has put off.

In order to keep from procrastinating- which is no easy task if you have done it all your life- you need to focus on more than one thing. Although there is no simple solution to this issue, there are a few things you can do to work on improving your time-management skills. One thing that can be useful to everyone, not just procrastinators, is keeping a schedule. Schedules work well so long as a person actually keeps track of it. Whether it is a physical notebook or on a smartphone, making sure to write down all of the things you need to get done in a checklist at least keeps track of the things you aren’t spending your time working on. However, actually getting these things done is harder. A suggestion to manage this list of things would be to plan ahead what you have to do each day. Decide what time you need to work on each project and for how long. When that time of the day comes, clear your desk or your work space (which will allow you to focus better if it isn’t your bed) of whatever you know will distract you. If music helps you focus, then put on a playlist so you don’t have to pick a new song as soon as each one ends.

Although procrastination is a problem that can lead to higher stress and tiredness, there are ways to work on lessening its effects. The issue itself stems from the need of the human brain to constantly be satisfied, and the assumption that our days of work won’t ever run out. Just remember: even if you have to deal with the burden of procrastination on every project you have to do, there are things you can do to get better at getting things done on time when you actually set your mind to it (and as long as you don’t procrastinate on trying to work on that too).