Belonging to Tomorrow: Can Procrastination Be a Good Thing?

Lightbulb lying on chalkboard. It’s scrolling through my Instagram as the word doc I have open on my computer with various versions of a thesis statement wearily watches me. It’s choosing to take a nap when I know I have an exam in T-minus 17 hours. It’s the clock counting the minutes “wasted” as I watch Netflix or go for a walk when I should be working on that history assignment.

Procrastination is a force hovering over many of our lives, promising instant relief from busy, deadline riddled days. As busy students, we are constantly pushing up against the clock. It can feel never ending. Procrastination calls out to us and even though we know it’s probably not a good idea, we listen because we want to feel good in the now.

The dictionary definition of the word procrastinate means “to postpone, put off, defer, prolong”. The word comes from the joining of two latin words: pro, meaning “forward” and crastinus, “which means belonging to tomorrow”. 

The question we explore on this episode of in[Tuition] is whether postponing or delaying working on an assignment or essay for school is always a bad thing? Can straying from an assignment to watch Netflix or go for a walk help you be more creative and efficient with your tasks? How does boredom play a role in our ability to solve problems or make decisions? Can procrastination ever be a good thing?

In this episode, Kenny and I share some of the brain science behind procrastination and explore whether procrastination as a student can sometimes be a good thing.

Kenny takes a nap mid assignment for immediate mood repair and explores how procrastination affects our ability to make decisions. Why is it we fall into the procrastination trap time and time again? What is going on in the brain when we procrastinate and what does an instant gratification monkey have to do with watching Netflix instead of studying for that mid-term?

I look at connections between procrastination and perfectionism and discuss my experience dealing with anxiety and school deadlines. I investigate what kinds of strategies students at UBC are using to help manage procrastination. Here is a sneak peek at some of our top 5 strategies for coping with procrastination.

1. Change your focus. When you’re feeling stressed about something you need to accomplish shift your focus onto the long-term results of your decisions. Procrastinators all to often focus on short term gains. Ask yourself why? What are the benefits of completing the task at hand? Imagine how you will feel once you’ve finished what you need to get done. How will you benefit in the long term from what you are doing?

2. Minimize potential distractions. Try changing up the space that you are working in. Find a favourite spot that allows you to focus based on your learning needs (whether that be a silent environment, a window with lots of light, or somewhere with some background noise). Turn your phone on silent while you work. Try logging out of your social medias or restricting your own access to certain websites on your computer to increase your focus.

3. Get an Accountability buddy. Find a friend or classmate who you work well with. Hold each other accountable to your work and study goals. Share your goals with each other and experiment with different accountability systems. For example, the person who doesn’t get their work done could owe the other a favour or a coffee. Check in with each other to make sure you’re both accomplishing what you set out to do that day or week.

Listen to our newest episode of in[Tuition] to find out what other strategies made our top five list and why procrastination might not always be such a bad thing. 

What do you think? Can procrastination ever be a good thing? What strategies do you use if procrastination causes you problems?  Let us know what you think by commenting below, or tweeting us @UBCLearn.


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