We would like to thank Lojain Al-Ahmary for writing this article. Lojain is an eleventh grade High School student from Dhahran High School, Saudi Arabia.
It’s fantastic to be able to share a student’s contribution on procrastination. It is high school students, after all, who understand better than anyone the reasons why so many of their peers procrastinate. Well done Lojain!
Procrastination: Do not delay what can be done today
I have so much time left. I’ll start it tomorrow. These were the thoughts going through Henry’s mind when his history teacher notified his class that they would have an essay and a final exam in precisely a month. Well, it is two days before the submission date and exam, and Henry has not started anything. He is panicking, stressing, and cramming way too much information in his head on such a short amount of time. His fingers are vigorously typing, trying to meet the deadline. After submitting his essay on time and reviewing all of the information, Henry was able to accomplish both tasks that he had a month to do in two days. What happens after that?
Most teachers provide deadlines to inform their students on assignments due and attempt to give them time to complete them. However, Henry is not the only student that waits until the last minute to do his tasks. Many students do it as well, but how well do they know the consequences of their actions? The negative effects of procrastination can hinder the quality of a student’s education.
What is procrastination?
Perhaps the most common definition of procrastination is the postponement of a task. Usually the individual undertakes a less vital task in favor of an important one or undertakes a gratifying task instead of an unpleasant one. This results in postponing the task to a later time. There are an innumerable amount of students such as Henry, who leave school work until the eleventh hour, yet they do not immediately realize what they are doing to themselves. Teachers, parents, and advisors warn them not to leave their tasks until the last minute for a reason.
Why do we procrastinate?
There are numerous reasons for a student’s procrastination, but nowadays it is even more intense than it ever has been because of twenty-first century technology. There are obvious benefits that come with this technology, but students can avoid writing papers, studying, doing homework or projects with a click of a mouse or screen. It is important that these students realize that they could be using their time more efficiently; similarly, the time they save could make them more optimistic when approaching their education.
“I procrastinate all the time and my grades are fine.” – Let’s dig deeper into this.
The condition of a student’s work is not the same as it could be if he/she did not procrastinate, indicating insufficient learning of the task. For instance, this can be seen in the five year study of 777 marketing students at the Warwick Business School which was conducted by two researchers at the institute, David Arnott and Scott Dacko. They observed the final assignments from 504 first-year students and 273 third-year students, and discovered that the 86.1 percent of the students who waited until the last twenty-four hours to submit their papers, earned a mean score of 64.04 out of 100. The early submission score was a mean of 64.32, which is equal to a ‘B.’ However, the average score continued to drop every hour. Moreover, the students who waited until the last minute of submission had the lowest average grades of 59 out of 100, which is a ‘C. This is a full grade lower than the average (Feeney).
The more the student procastinated, the lower the score; this indicates that the instructor might have felt as if the student did not meet the learning goals of the assignment, or the student did not benefit as much as he/she could have from the assignment. Similarly, another study was conducted by a professor of education at Ohio State University, Bruce Tuckman. It examined 116 students enrolled in a ten week study skills course that had deadlines for over two hundred assignments. Since all the submissions were made by computers, it verified that no student could submit a late assignment. Lastly, the study was concluded based on the degree of procrastination and a 4.0 grading scale solely in the course. Additionally, it revealed that the slight/moderate procrastinators had an average between a 3.4 to 3.6 GPA. Yet, the extreme procrastinators averaged a 2.9 GPA (Dutt). Seeing that procrastinators received lower GPA’s, it can be suggested that they did not do the assignment efficiently on time. In the end, consistently delaying tasks results in lower grades and GPAs, which can exhibit unsatisfactory performance in a student’s education.
Procrastination does not allow the student to perform to the best of their abilities. Many students consistently put a task off and attempt to cram the night before a test. Others force themselves to pull an “all nighter,” which is defined by students as not sleeping to spend hours working and studying. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep to function best. If they do not get the recommended amount of sleep, it leads to a limit in a person’s ability to learn, listen, concentrate, solve problems, and accessing higher-level cognitive functions. This can include forgetting names, dates, and homework (“Teens”).
In fact, research at the University of Sheffield, conducted by Dr. Tom Stafford, an instructor in Psychology and Cognitive Science analyzed data from 850,000 people. The data was based on a study that required each individual to play an online game, in which they directed a neuron from network to another network by clicking on targets. This specifically tests the individual’s ability to recognize, distinguish, understand, and make decisions. The individuals who obtained higher scores seemed to learn more quickly because they explored how the game works and spaced out their practice time. It concluded that learning is more effective when it is done over stretches of time (Stafford). If a student knows he/she has a test coming up, it would be beneficial for him/her to break up the information and study it piece by piece, because they can successfully learn the information and do not have to worry about the emotions and nerves the day before the test. All in all, if students did not procrastinate they could learn and understand more information effectively and skillfully.
Do you still think procrastination is good for you?
Many proponents of procrastination argue that is has positive effects on a student. Notably, many students believe that they work better when they are under pressure. However, according to psychologist Timothy Pychyl, the director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University, this is just a myth. He states that there is not any evidence that legitimately proves that students perform better in a hurry (Pychyl). Furthermore, many of the students that use this claim to justify their actions of procrastination have not even tried to work when they are calm. Just because they get the work done, does not mean that they did the work well. These students put themselves in an uneasy position involving a surplus amount of unwanted stress, anxiety, and fatigue when they save their tasks until the last minute. Overall, these proponents do not have a valid reason for procrastinating when it comes to school related tasks.
Procrastination can be regarded as an ill-fated habit that students develop when approaching their education. Self-control, motivation, and diligence are all attributes that a student should have. Unfortunately, once they keep delaying all of the assignments and studying, their chances of low grades and GPAs increase. Not only that, but if they discontinue their tendency of putting tasks off until the last minute, they can perform and understand the content and goals of an assignment in an efficient manner. This is why students need to know the value of time, and not to delay what they can do today.
Want to stop procrastinating? Here’s how…
● Figure out the why you are procrastinating. Is the task challenging? Is it boring? Does it require time and effort? If so, then this is why planning is crucial. Usually, students tend to leave the daunting assignments until the last minute. Instead, try to do them first because once the difficult task is over, you can do something you prefer without the burden of doing this particular task.
● Stay motivated. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s the mindset we should all have approaching challenging tasks. Think of the long-term and short-term goals you have for yourself. Everything you do will bring you closer to those goals.
● Make a plan and write down everything you need to do. If it is preferable, you can do it online or on your phone. All of your assignments, deadlines, homework, and tests should be on a calendar so you can visually see what you have to do. If you just keep it in your head, you might not see how much needs to be done. This way you can manage your time so you do not leave anything until the day before.
● Develop a routine for yourself. For example, you can come home from school and start your homework. After you get that out of the way, you can do whatever you please. You can surf the internet, exercise, chat with friends. Additionally, it would be better if you set a consistent bedtime for yourself. For most teenagers, it should be between nine to ten o’clock. Once you have a set schedule, you can plan out what you need to do once you come home from school and make sure everything gets done before bed.
● Reward yourself. For example, tell yourself that once you finish these history notes you can watch a YouTube video. After watching the video, you can start reading your assigned reading project. Once you finish a chapter, you can go on your phone for ten minutes. Simple rewards like these are great motivation boosters.
● Lastly, try to get as much done as possible. If you are really not in the mood, then get a timer and set it to thirty minutes. Do as much as you can for thirty minutes and then stop. Truth is once you have already started, you will not want to stop.
Dutt, Adhiraj. “Degree of Procrastination Linked with Lower Grades.” The Michigan Daily. University of Michigan, 30 Sept. 2002. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Feeney, Nolan. “Students Who Turn in Work at the Last Minute Get Worse Grades, Study Finds.” Time. Time, 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Pychyl, Timothy A. “In Search of the Arousal Procrastinator.” Psychology Today. Sussex
Publishers, 13 Aug. 2008. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.
Stafford, Tom. “How You Practice Matters for Learning Skill Quickly.” Psychological Science.
Association for Psychological Science, 7 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
“Teens and Sleep.” Sleep for Teenagers. National Sleep Foundation, 2014.
Web. 23 Nov. 2014.