Procrastination has a bad rep

P. R. O. C. R. A. S. T. I. N. A. T. I. O. N.

This word has a bad reputation. We know it and we’ve all done it.

It’s about waiting to the last minute, well, not always literally waiting until the last minute, but in some cases cutting it pretty close.

It’s defined as: the action of delaying or postponing something.

Delaying or postponing just about anything can possibly result in a negative outcome.

But, delaying or postponing many things can possibly result in a positive outcome.

During my days as a college instructor, I heard, more often than not, many students confidently say, “I do my best work when I wait till the last minute, I get more ideas closer to the deadline.”

Early on, I would challenge this over and over again, as I strongly encouraged and even setup assignment and project schedules to support getting them done early.

I’d arrange for students to complete assignments and projects a few weeks before the due date and turn them in to me to review for feedback. Then, they could ask questions, do a little more research, etc., and go back to make any necessary revisions. This approach is actually a better way to facilitate the learning process.

Every time, less than 5% of the class would take advantage of this arrangement.

Initially, I was stumped. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t take advantage of this, especially since so many were dead set on getting an “A.”

For many, the decision to procrastinate was reflected in the poor quality of their work, but they’d continue to make that choice, over and over again.

Many students have lots of responsibilities on top of taking four or five classes a semester – they may have a job, some may have families, and it’s important that students have a social life. Balance, although challenging to achieve, is important to pursue.

Students have a lot on their plates, I get it. But, college is important and costly and it’s in their best interest to make it a priority, which means taking care of the required assignments and tasks in their various classes. It’s a temporary setup, so why not get laser focused and knock it out the park? For many, though, schoolwork is not a priority and their grades take a hit.

For some, though, procrastinating didn’t result in poor quality work. They had a point. It sparked something in them; that looming deadline got them moving and got the ideas flowing.

We think procrastination is a bad practice for students, for everyone. We all do it, at least in one area or another.

For me, I procrastinate when I’m NOT particularly feeling the task at hand. Or, when I’m riddled with fear about moving forward. In my experience, this seems to be the case with students, too.

Often, students are just bored with the assignment and instead of fully engaging, getting curious and taking on the assignment as a challenge, they dismiss it as boring and unimportant and procrastination shows up.

I may also procrastinate when I’m waiting for intuitive confirmation, as timing is often important.

Sometimes, it’s just not beneficial to get started early. Maybe there’s something you need to know first, or perhaps delaying will mean getting more of something – more information, more money, more time, more opportunities, more help, etc.

It just depends. There are many factors to be considered.

Experience has taught me that it’s not up to me to decide whether someone should or should not procrastinate.

I now respect others’ decisions to delay, postpone, or not.

Procrastination can have negative results or positive ones. It’s up to each one of us to decide how we’ll proceed based on our own personal assessment of a given situation.

My only advice is to choose consciously and consider the long-term impact!

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