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Academic Procrastination: a Perceived Notion Among Students

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I. What is Academic Procrastination?

Procrastination is behaviour of delaying a task that can be done earlier but chooses to do it last minute. This behaviour problem exists in almost every aspect in our daily lives, be it in academic, financial or even in health management. Ryan, M. (2007) stated that the habit of procrastination can reach such chronic levels that it can have negative effects on their lives.

As discussed earlier, Academic Procrastination involves the delay of a particular academic task which is due to lack of time management. In addition, procrastination comes from the Latin word means “forward to tomorrow”. The problem is that unless the task is met today, tomorrow can convert into weeks, even months and years.

Mostly, undergraduates frequently exhibit procrastinate behavior towards their school related tasks such as making assignments, projects, studying, preparing for exams and other related task which they don’t know that it has an adverse effect on their academic standing in the class.

Apart from that, academic procrastination problem is prevalence for undergraduate students. Some students who are less motivated tend to procrastinate academic tasks to the very last minute. For example they procrastinate doing class assignment, group project, studying for exam, writing academic paper or thesis. Sometimes, this type of students may finish the tasks just so they do not fail in the subject. “Fear of failure, low self-efficacy and low self-competence” are some of the reasons of procrastination stated by (Schraw et al., 2007; Senecal et al., 1995) extracted from (Williams, G. J., Stark, K. S., & Foster, E. E. 2008).

Putting things off is a major stumbling block to achievement both long-term and in the present. One of the effects of challenging a specific
deadline is the belief that holding off on taking action is an effective way to deal with intractable problems.

II. How do students procrastinate on different period of time?

The results from the procrastination styles survey are in! We had hundreds of responses, and honestly one of the results surprised me a little. I’ll get to the results in a second, let’s first quickly recap the two styles of procrastinators – long term and short term procrastinators. Short Term: “I’ll Do It Tomorrow”

Short term procrastination is the type of procrastination where you have a small task, something you could finish right now. However, instead of starting, short term procrastinators tell themselves “I’ll do it tomorrow.” This is procrastination one day at a time.

Long Term: ”I’ll Do It Someday”
The second type of procrastination is long term procrastination. This is the type of procrastination that kills dreams, leads to long term regrets, and that other people will play along and help you deny you’re doing it. Long term procrastinators have some project they want to take up, a dream they want to accomplish, but have no idea when they’ll actually be able to do it. They get tied up in day to day work, little emergencies and short term “urgent” tasks As as a result, they are never able to put aside enough time to write, or exercise, or taking that trip they’ve dreamed about because they’re so busy – all those things get pushed off to “someday.” If you want to see a deeper discussion, see the original article: The Two Types of Procrastinators. The Results! Most People Are…

The last time I wrote to you, I asked you first share with me which type you more identified with, short or long term, and then guess which you felt most other people would identify with. Well today I’ll give you the results – and let’s see if you guessed right! Do you remember what you chose last week? I’ll give you the results to the second question first. By a small margin (55% to 45%), most readers felt that other people were long term procrastinators. However, what did most readers feel that they struggled with? The answer might surprise you – it certainly surprised me:

So to recap: most of you feel that other people are long term procrastinators – putting their dreams on hold, putting things off to “someday.” However, personally, most of you responded that you are short term procrastinators. As for myself? I manage to overcome my procrastination, but the style that affects me the most is short term procrastination. It’s the one I catch myself frequently slipping back into, unless I use the strategies I’ve learned over the years to overcome it and continue to take action. I had more I wanted to share with you, but this week has been very busy for me between projects, work, helping clients, getting back into writing, and looking over these results. So I’m going to have to cut this short, but I wanted to get you the results as soon as I could – and I enjoyed this so much, I think we’ll keep doing these one question surveys! I hope you enjoy them too. As we close today, I have another question for you:

Why do you most frequently procrastinate? Even if you frequently overcome it, what reason or excuse do you find usually affects you? Please answer below in this quick, one question survey, and feel free to share your thoughts with me below in the comments – I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read every single one!

III. What are the causes and effects of this behavior?

A. The several factors that affect the students to opt this kind of behavior.

The researchers know that Academic Procrastination problem is prevalence among undergraduate students. Some students who are less motivated tend to procrastinate academic tasks to the very last minute. “Fear of failure, low self-efficacy and low self-competence” are some of the reasons of procrastination stated by (Schraw et al., 2007; Senecal et al., 1995).

A procrastinator is a person who is aware that he or she has a task or an
assignment to do. He or she is trying and planning to start working on the task, but continues to delay doing so. A person who has this habit is normally doing less important or not important tasks rather than the more important task. A procrastinator wastes too much time on something which gives him or her pleasure such as playing computer games or reading an update in his or her social networking website. Mostly, procrastinators keep themselves ready to work but end up avoiding the task. (Noran, 2000)

The reason for the increase of procrastination can be attributed to two main causes which Neal Thakkar cite on his undergraduate research journal entitled “Why Procrastinate: An Investigation of the Root Causes behind Procrastination”. First, modern technology makes it increasingly easier for people to procrastinate. The computer has activities that cater to many different sectors of society and distractions like checking e-mail, messaging friends instantly, surfing the news, listening to music, watching videos on YouTube, playing computer games and hanging out in virtual social networks like Facebook and MySpace can all unnecessarily delay the task at hand. The computer isn’t the only distraction: television, cell phones, mp3 players, video games and a whole host of increasingly sophisticated, modern inventions can cause serious procrastination. Second, procrastination has increased as post-modern values have permeated much of Western society in the last thirty years.

According to Dr. Ronald Inglehart, a prominent political science at the University of Michigan and director of the World Values Survey, Western societies started developing postmodern values like tolerance, appreciation of social contacts and self-actualization which coexist with modern values like hard work, security and prosperity. When applied to academics, modern values indicate a preference for school, future goals and hard work while postmodern values indicate a preference for social activities and pleasure now. In many cases, there is limited time to pursue different academic and leisure activities, leading to a motivational conflict between the two activities. Depending on which value structure they have, students will also have different daily routines (Dietz, Hofer and Fries, 2007). Students with modern values want to plan for the future and will plan out their daily routine to meet their goals. On the other hand, students with postmodern values like to spontaneously decide the activities they want to participate in during the day, leading to the higher chance of delaying academic tasks with little immediate pleasure. Drs. Franziska Dietz, Manfred Hofer and Stefan Fries, who are all professors of Psychology at the University of Mannheim in Germany, performed an empirical study on 700 German students that proved Inglehart’s theory by finding that “postmodern value orientation was positively linked to academic procrastination”.

Ali Luke also states the four underlying causes of procrastination on her essay entitled “Procrastination: Causes and Cure”. She asserts that procrastination can be caused by working too hard. If the student is taking work home every night, if he/she is busy all weekend with projects, always thinking about work and never get any time for himself/herself – no wonder he/she is ending up on Facebook when he/she should be working. The next one is if the students work doesn’t excite themselves to find a particular job as tedious and boring, it’s no surprise that he/she was a procrastinator. The student is finding any way to take their minds off the tedium. Third is he/she can’t see the endpoint. Even if how much he/she loves his/her work, there’ll always be some tasks which is to be tempted to put things off again and again. The students might be tedious, or might be high-energy ones. The students not especially excited by them, but he/she know to need get done. Lastly, the students are frightened. Procrastination can come from fear. In the situation that feels frightened, he/she find all sorts of excuses to put something off. He/she excited about to their goals but feels also scared. And hoping that the fear will eventually melt away, but it never does.

B. The negative effects of this behavior.

The habit of delaying tasks result in bad consequences of which Tulik (2008) describes a few. First is fatigue in which a procrastinator keeps postponing his or her tasks and thus become mentally fatigue when the sense of accomplishment is not achieved. Fatigue lowers self-confidence and it can lead to other illnesses such as depression and sleeplessness. Second, people who procrastinate cannot show their true potential in their studies or work. According to him , procrastination is linked to all kinds of negative effects; thus people who have potential and talent but procrastinate cannot show their talent or potential because they think it is just hopeless and useless to try out anything.

The last consequence stated by Tulik is that the habit of procrastinating makes an easy task very difficult. As a result of postponing the task to a point where in the end the task increases proportionally and becomes very difficult to handle. Beswick, Rothblum and Mann (1998) state that “the consequences of habitual procrastination are likely to be anxiety, despair and depression as the person fails to complete tasks or perform them unsatisfactorily”. Procrastination also puts a procrastinator in a situation of conflict and indecision. Beswick, Rothblum and Mann suggested that procrastination also results in poor work because it was done rushed or partly uncompleted. Due to procrastination, a procrastinator wastes his or her time (by postponing his or her task), thinking that the task can be accomplished later, but ends up with nothing started and missing the deadlines (Hobbs, 2008).

III. How are we going to prevent this kind of behavior?
Possible solutions to prevent this kind of behavior.

A particular deadline is looming. However, instead of doing work, the students are fiddling with those unimportant things leaving the things that should be done. He/she knows that he/she is working, but he/she just don’t feel like doing anything.When a student procrastinate, he/she squander away the free time and put off important tasks which he/she should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, he/she panic and wishes to get started earlier. The chronic procrastinators have spent years of their lives looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life. There are 10 practical ways in order to overcome procrastination as stated by Celestine Chua (www.lifehack.org). First is breaking work into little steps. Part of the reason why students procrastinate is because subconsciously, he/she finds the work too overwhelming.

Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If he/she still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, the task will be so simple that a student will be thinking “this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”. Second is change the environment. Different environments have different impact on our productivity. If the environment that you are working on is noisy, you may lost focus on your work and tends to shift into another. Third is create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines. Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late. Fourth is eliminate your procrastination pit-stops. If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate. You have just to overcome that attitude by fighting the urge. Fifth is hang out with people who inspire you to take action.. The people you are with influences your actions and behaviors. Sixth is get a buddy. Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun.

Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Seventh is tell others about your goals.This serves the same function as #6. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects. Eight is seek out someone who has already achieved the outcome. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action. Ninth is re-clarify your goals. If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that. Lastly, get a grip and just do it. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

The effective ways in managing time.

To successfully manage your time you have to get organized both in your professional and personal life. Getting organized in an efficient way is a skill that not all people have. To manage your life and work you need to first manage your time.

In our days people spend most of their time working. There are times that they feel that they will never manage to escape from the four walls of the office and are lost in the various projects and tasks they have to finish.

As part of the study, the researchers find on sources in how to manage time effectively in order to alleviate the belief that one of the reason why procrastinators procrastinate is that they lack of time and management.

There are 14 ways on managing your time effectively as stated in the source (www.manageyourlifenow.com). The first one is that make a list of what should be done. Make a list of what to do and try to constantly renew the list and keep it up to date. Second is allocate your time correctly. Include an estimated time frame for each action and the date by which each task must be completed. Third is set your own deadlines and meet them. Be realistic about the deadlines you set and try to meet them. It is true that any work gets exactly the time allocated for it. Fourth is use your time intelligently.

Never waste time for unimportant matters. Fifth is do not distract your attention. You should focus on one work in order to do another. Sixth is co-operate with your colleagues. Colleagues will expect you to finish the job on time, so make sure to avoid any delay. You would expect the same from them. To avoid any delays, give more time to the project so as to be able to handle unexpected complications, misunderstandings or missed deadlines. Seventh is be constantly busy. Keep your skills in shape by having at least one project to be involved. Two or more (projects) would be even better because you are given the opportunity to change and to focus on something else for variety. Eight is reward yourself. To manage your time efficiently does not have to do only with your job. You should also include in your schedule time where you stop everything, relax and recharge your batteries. Thing of a reward to give yourself when you finish your work.

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