Procrastination: The Enemy Within

Subject: Mental Health
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2030
Topics: Health, Public Health, Universal Healthcare

Table of Contents


Procrastination refers to the act and habit of always putting off or delaying activities that require immediate attention. The behavior is a pertinent characteristic of laziness and may cause serious adverse ramifications to an individual. Chronic procrastination is a common observable pattern among most high school students. The behavior arises from the tendency to put off activities they consider boring while finding time to engage in other exciting activities. Unfortunately, most of the activities they prioritize are non-important a feature that causes panic and wastes essential time. Postponement begins as a simple act of attempting to rationalize with priorities. However, it degenerates into a captivating behavior that threatens the dreams and ambitions of many students at various levels of education.

Procrastination manifests itself in the tendency to avoid completing urgent and important tasks that need immediate attention (Peters and Jeremy 66). Procrastinators prefer to spend their time on pleasurable activities while putting off activities they consider boring. In some cases, an individual can procrastinate to the “last minute” which refers to the deadline of a task thereby causing serious panic. Similarly, procrastination can occur as a common behavior in which an individual finds reasons to postpone urgent and important but boring tasks. In other cases, procrastination takes hold of a specific aspect of life thereby causing a natural and chronic dislike for specific tasks such as seeing a doctor or repairing a leaking roof. Among students, procrastination has serious ramifications since it may result in a chronic inability to submit academic assignments in time. In most cases, procrastinators complete their assignments in a rush thereby failing to cover the necessary facts.

Psychologists have studied the prevalence of procrastination and established specific factors that sustain the vice key among which is the pleasure principle. The psychological principle argues that people enjoy working under stress with pressure resulting from approaching deadlines acting as a practical incentive for the postponement of important tasks (Sirois and Ryan 436). Perfectionism is yet another factor that influences the prevalence of procrastination. Perfectionism is a psychological condition characterized by the constant fear of evaluation of one’s work or the tendency to evaluate outcomes negatively. Studies show that adaptive perfectionists, people with ego-syntonic perfectionism are less likely to procrastinate while maladaptive perfectionists will always use their perfectionism to delay important tasks thus procrastinate.

First, stalling causes serious wastage if time. An individual spends most of the time on non-important activities thereby wasting the time necessary to complete important assignments (Knaus 71). Time is the primary resource that a student must utilize effectively to ensure success. Students must have the ability to plan their time using timetables to ensure that they complete their assignments among other essential activities in a timely manner. However, students may not always find academic assignments pleasurable. Furthermore, they have numerous distractors which may including spending time with peers among others which are always more pleasurable than completing assignments. Such activities provide serious conflicts of interests with procrastinators opting to spend time on such pleasurable yet not productive activities. Eventually, the students waste the valuable time they could have used up in studies.

Procrastination wastes opportunities (Burka and Lenora 22). Opportunities often present themselves in boring and even laborious assignments. Essay competitions, personal statements, and even online surveys may always sound boring. Some always come with specific deadlines and require prompt yet comprehensive replies. Despite their boring and laborious nature, such assignments may present life-changing opportunities to students. However, procrastinators will always have reasons to put such vital tasks forward. A lazy student will readily dismiss the tasks claiming that he or she will complete them later. In most cases, the students never even read the instructions. They simply dismiss the task and return to it later only to realize that the time had elapsed and the opportunity is gone. In such cases, a student feels demoralized for losing life-changing opportunities such as scholarships and awards among others.

Similarly, stalling prevents students from achieving their goals. Students and people, in general, have personal goals. The goals may cover their studies, personal life, and even careers. At every level, people strive to achieve specific objectives since they act as practical measures of growth and influence the quality of life of an individual. Practical goals are always specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (Gustavson and Akira166). Time thus remains a fundamental factor in the ability to achieve personal goals. One must have time limits to help measure progress and even make changes on routines to achieve the goals. Unfortunately, procrastination affects the element of time in the goals. Procrastinators will readily delay important activities that would enhance their chances to achieve the goals thus causing serious delays on the overall goals. The chronic postponement of activities thus derails the goals and leaves an individual confused in life.

Procrastinators will always find excuses and justification for their behaviors. Most will cite the pleasure principle to explain that they put off some activities but will always find time to complete them before the time elapses. They argue that the pressure that arises from short deadlines allows them to complete the tasks after all. They also explain, “Procrastination allows them to avoid the negative emotions and stress related to complex tasks until the final hours or minutes of the tasks” (Westgate et al. 131). Such people view tasks as stressful and capable of causing some life threatening conditions such as anxiety and depression. They thus view procrastination as a way of minimizing the stress and the inherent negative emotions. They save time and face the tasks and the emotions in the final hours thereby avoiding the protracted emotional turmoil anyone who completes the tasks in time endures.

Conversely, the arguments by procrastinators present immense disadvantages some of which are psychological and therefore harmful to the mental health of an individual. First, procrastination simply puts off the stress all of which they will face or face the consequences of the delays which are always more severe than the actual delays. By delaying a task, one minimizes the time to do research and even consult thereby minimizing the chances of success. The consequences are even worse in academic tasks since some topic require adequate research. The delays minimize the time necessary to conduct comprehensive research thereby lowering the chances of completing the tasks effectively.

Besides denying one a chance to complete a task effectively, procrastination causes immense psychological trauma arising from the consequences of the mental pressure and the prolonged consequences of poorly done tasks. The delays compel an individual to complete extensive tasks within a short duration a feature that in turn causes substandard research and hurried completion of tasks. In the case of assignments, students may fail to read the instructions properly thereby answer wrong questions. Similarly, one may fail to proofread and even format the assignments appropriately. Both cases cause failure of a course thereby exposing a student to the adverse effects of failure. Failure is both torturous and costly. One must pay the tuition fee and attend classes once again. Furthermore, one loses the peers who are likely to progress to successive classes.

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In addition to the above detrimental effects of postponement, the act also ruins the life of an individual in other numerous ways including lowering self-esteem, poor decision making and chances of ruining a career. Postponement affects personality, “chronic postponement of tasks is likely to lower self-esteem as a person begins to do introspections and asks questions about whatever is wrong with them and their personalities” (Kouroshnia 519). It also causes self-doubt, which may degenerate to depression. Low self-esteem destroys lives in numerous ways. The resultant self-doubt is likely to hinder social skills thereby minimizing a person’s social life. Similarly, procrastination is an embodiment of poor decision-making. Procrastinators will always make poor decisions owing to their inability to prioritize tasks effectively.

The discussion above demonstrates the disadvantages of procrastination. Successful students and even upright members of the society should have the ability to prioritize and find time to complete important tasks irrespective of their boring nature. Studies reveal that procrastination arises from numerous coping responses that make one unable to realize the detrimental nature of their actions. The coping responses include avoidance. One readily avoids the tasks, the place and people involved in undertaking the tasks. Denial and trivialization constitute the second response. Procrastinators will pretend that they are not postponing the works. They will find reliable justifications for their actions. Descending counterfactuality and distractions are yet other coping responses that instill the culture of deferment. 

Procrastination is, therefore, an enemy of growth and development in any aspect of human life including academics and careers. People must find effective ways to manage and overcome the allure of indulging in enjoyable activities at the expense of some important assignments. Delayed gratification is key among the strategies of managing the vice. Delayed gratification is the concept of delaying the reward that one enjoys from a sacrifice (Panella 123). People should learn to sacrifice then saving some time to reward themselves. Investing time and resources in completing assignments in time is an example of a sacrifice. After completing the assignment, one enjoys ample time to relax and meet up with peers for recreational activities, which constitute the rewards. Upholding the concept if delayed gratification offers a reliable motivation for students to overcome procrastination.

Stalling is a major enemy for personal development, especially for students. As such, students must be aware of the thoughts and habits that lead to the act. Being aware of the thoughts and behaviors enables one to resist them thereby prioritize assignments appropriately. One must also set realistic goals and develop a link between the goals and the activities one undertakes in a day. The goals should encourage a person to prioritize activities thereby allocating time and resources for the activities that contribute to the attainment of the goals. Complementary of the goals, people must have the ability to evaluate the goals, weaknesses, strengths and prioritize. In serious conditions, students should seek medical or any other professional help for self-defeating psychological problems like anxiety, fear, perfectionism poor time management and indecisiveness among others.

In retrospect, procrastination is an enemy within most people. In schools, most students have the tendency to procrastinate on assignments among other academic tasks. The behavior is both worrying and dangerous. It threatens the success of students and numerous other life threatening psychological consequences. Chronic postponement is a symptom of underlying psychological problems. The behavior is likely to cause low self-esteem, poor decision making and a potential to ruin either career or studies. Students must, therefore, find effective ways of overcoming the habit as a practical way of safeguarding their studies. The management of the behavior begins by being aware of the thoughts and habits that lead to the vice. As such, schools must carry out civic education and counseling to help the students prioritize their work.           

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  1. Burka, Jane B, and Lenora M. Yuen. Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now. 2008. Print.
  2. Ferrari, Joseph R, Judith L. Johnson, and William G. McCown. Procrastination and Task Avoidance: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Boston, MA: Springer US, 1995. Print. 
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  6. Panella, Vince. The Twenty-Six-Hour Day: How to Gain at Least Two Hours a Day with Time Control. Franklin Lakes, N.J: Career Press, 2001. Print.
  7. Peters, Diane, and Jeremy Tankard. Procrastination: Deal with It All in Good Time. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co, 2007. Print.
  8. Sirois, Fuschia M., and Ryan Kitner. “Less Adaptive or More Maladaptive? A Meta-Analytic Investigation of Procrastination and Coping.” European Journal of Personality 29.4 (2015): 433–444. EBSCOhost. Web.
  9. Westgate, Erin C. et al. “Productive Procrastination: Academic Procrastination Style Predicts Academic and Alcohol Outcomes.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 47.3 (2017): 124–135. EBSCOhost. Web.
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