By Contributing Author
One of the most popular TED-talks ever is Tim Urban’s hilarious one-man show, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator.” It is an engaging story of an epic battle between an instant gratification monkey and a rational decision-maker right inside the brain of an experienced procrastinator. Urban, one of the Internet’s most popular bloggers, shares his insights into the nature of putting off work. He does it in such a genuine and humor-packed manner that the audience cannot help but roll with laughter. If you are still wondering what kind of an exotic animal an instant gratification monkey is, we highly recommend the talk. It is an absolute must for all college students and young professionals. But let us warn you, what starts as a good laugh ends on a very serious note. Joking aside, procrastination is no laughing matter. Below you will find a comprehensive list of negative consequences caused by academic procrastination. And, believe us, we are not trying to depress you, quite the contrary! You need to know your enemy to win! Reading this article will be the first step to your victory over the manipulative and cunning procrastination monkey.
1. Procrastination May Affect the Quality of Your Work
Have you ever wondered why larger projects and major assignments do not have tight deadlines? You have probably guessed that it is not because the professors are procrastinators trying to put off the grading time. Neither have they conspired to torture you by enhancing your sense of guilt and self-castigation skills. Longer deadlines are supposed to give you time for planning, research, drafting, and proofreading, which, when done consequently and consistently, will help you produce a high-quality paper. When you squeeze all of these important stages into a time span meant for only one of them, the quality will most likely suffer. Sunny Hawkins calls this approach to work “the dangerous method” reminding us that “that essay you slap-dash together at the last minute, literally printing off your first (and final) draft as you’re rushing to class on the morning the project is due, will, nine times out of ten, not make the grade in any sense of the word.”
2. It Can Spoil Your Academic Reputation and Record
When you submit a lower quality work once, your professor will probably write it off as an accidental deviation. But if it happens on a regular basis, if your papers lack details, your formatting is lame, and the internal logic cannot be easily spotted, be sure you are in trouble. Research has shown that procrastinators receive lower grades on all assignments than their non-procrastinating group-mates. Thus, chronic procrastination prevents you from being your best academic self. The trouble is that if you procrastinate long enough, your professors will eventually forget this best side of you ever existed.
3. Procrastinating May Increase Your Stress Levels, Lead to Negative Thinking, and Even Cause Illness
If you are a habitual procrastinator, you know that you get the most productive when the panic monster wakes up and seizes control of the situation. This cannot be seen as a pleasant experience. The panic monster will not switch into an active mode unless you imagine all the worst scenarios that can happen to you if you procrastinate a little longer. The time before that turning point cannot be called a delightful pastime either: the feeling of guilt will not allow you to procrastinate enjoyably. These stressful and anxiety-inducing situations can seriously affect your health. When you add a lack of sleep, overworking, and homesickness into the equation, you will get a very sad result. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University have discovered that college students who procrastinate overall are sicker than their non-procrastinating peers. Dianne M. Tice and Roy F. Baumeister unequivocally call procrastination “a self-defeating behavior pattern marked by short-term benefits and long-term costs.”
4. Procrastination Jeopardizes Your Social Life
You might have noticed that an anxious red-eyed zombie dozing off over a huge stack of books is not a character everybody wants to make friends with. By putting off writing your term project or preparing for your exams till the last moment, you deprive yourself of all the wonderful social opportunities you might have very well enjoyed if you studied consistently. Just think, maybe at that very birthday party you missed because you were busy cramming, you might have met your soulmate or even the love of your life.
5. Procrastinators Suffer from Lower Self-Esteem
Procrastination may seem comparatively harmless at first. Everyone puts things on the shelf every once in a while. Even the unrivaled prince of paradox Oscar Wilde said that he never put off till tomorrow what he could possibly do the day after. But this seemingly trifling bad habit is a part of a bigger vicious circle that is very hard to escape. According to Dr. Audrey Sherman, procrastination can lead to low self-esteem and even depression. When you procrastinate, you feel bad about not getting things done, the feeling of guilt is preying on your mind, your grades get worse, your self-esteem drops, and, consequently, you go on procrastinating, not having enough confidence and motivation to make a change. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, remember, you can always ask for help. But if the anxiety and depression do not go away after you have handed in all your assignments, do not hesitate to talk to your college counselor.
The first step to overcoming the negative effects of procrastination is facing the need for change. The battle you fight with yourself is the hardest one. So, do not expect an immediate transformation. Get ready for a marathon rather than a sprint. But the results will not disappoint you. After all, you must admit that being an organized, calm, and happy individual in charge of your own life is always better than feeling like a desperate passenger tied to the mast of a ship navigated by a crazy monkey.
Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio