We’re all very familiar with the notion of procrastination, and we’ve all engaged in it, though some more than others. Whether we’re talking about putting off work assignments, household chores, or personal goals, everyone procrastinates at some point. It’s important to understand that, while this is a very common phenomenon, not everyone struggle with it equally. Being a chronic procrastinator can have multiple impacts on one’s life and career, and the rise of online education in the recent years has presented unique challenges when it comes to managing procrastination.
Why do we procrastinate?
Procrastination is often misunderstood, as common advice tends to focus on improving time management and self-control without addressing the underlying emotional triggers. Some psychologists argue that procrastination is primarily linked to our avoidance of tasks that stir up negative emotions, which can range from boredom to anxiety. It’s not the tasks themselves that people are dodging but rather the unpleasant feelings they associate with these tasks. Procrastination becomes a way to handle these emotions, particularly for those who struggle with managing their emotions or are dealing with other life stressors. This behaviour provides immediate relief from these negative emotions, reinforcing the habit of procrastination due to its quick mood-altering effects. In essence, it’s the emotions tied to tasks, not the tasks’ inherent unpleasantness, that drive procrastination, making it a short-term solution to ease emotional discomfort.
Dealing with long-term impacts
While procrastination might offer short-term relief from negative emotions, it has several harmful long-term consequences. Habitual procrastination can hinder your ability to achieve academic, career, financial, social, and well-being goals. In academics, it results in lower exam scores, grades, and increased failures. In employment, it’s associated with lower salaries, shorter job tenures, and being in jobs that don’t match your skills.
Furthermore, procrastination can also harm your mental and physical health. Mentally, it can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and guilt, potentially contributing to conditions like depression. Physically, procrastination often leads to poor time management and unhealthy habits, like irregular sleep patterns, lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet, which can lead to health issues such as obesity and cardiovascular problems.
Moreover, procrastination can delay seeking help for these health issues. People who put off addressing their mental or physical health concerns may wait until their conditions worsen, making treatment less effective and potentially leading to more severe health problems.
Challenges of distance learning
We all know that distance learning comes with its fair share of hurdles, and some of these can make procrastination more tempting and hurt your academic progress. We’re talking about things like not having that traditional classroom structure, the countless distractions at home, the struggle to manage your time effectively, feeling a bit isolated from your teachers and classmates, needing to really motivate yourself, dealing with accountability problems, and having all those tempting online distractions while trying to study.
To tackle these challenges head-on, here are some steps you can take. First, try setting up a daily schedule that follows the routine of a regular school day. It helps keep you on track. Then, create a study space that’s free from distractions, so you can focus better. Use time management tools like calendars and to-do lists to stay organized and make the most of your time.
Don’t forget to actively participate in online discussions and join study groups to stay engaged with your classmates. It’s also crucial to set clear goals for yourself and give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve them. Breaking down your tasks into smaller, more manageable bits can help make progress feel doable.
Lastly, if you’re easily distracted by websites and apps, consider using blockers and productivity apps to keep your attention on your work. Plus, make good use of educational apps and platforms to enhance your learning experience. These steps can make distance learning a whole lot smoother.
It can get better
No matter how deep you’ve fallen into the procrastination pit, keep this in mind: procrastination is something you decide to do. Taking that initial leap into productivity can be a game-changer for your future.
If you’re a student, give some of the above-mentioned strategies a go. Just taking that first step can significantly improve your ability to tackle the hurdles of distance learning. Achieving your academic and personal goals and looking after your well-being become well within reach. It’s a journey of self-growth and exploration, and every step is absolutely worth it.