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“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams
Everyone procrastinates at some stage or another in their lives. For an ever increasing body of students, life can be divided into two halves. One that is labelled the time spent working, and the other which can be called the time spent procrastinating. For even more people, chronically avoiding difficult tasks and seeking distractions has become a crippling habit. If their life was represented on a pie chart, the part of procrastination would probably be more sizeable in comparison to that representing work.
Procrastination typically reflects our ongoing struggle with self-control and our inability to accurately predict how we will feel tomorrow or in the future. Many view procrastination as a deliberate process where the delay is precipitated by an aversion to the task at hand. Tasks that are considered unpleasant and uninteresting are believed to be the ones that draw the greatest stretches of inactivity from procrastinators. At times, the procrastinators find relief in kicking the proverbial can down the road. Avoidance serves as a coping mechanism that shields them from the anxiety and stress that many tasks bring along with them. It is also thought that people put off working on certain projects because they just do not care enough about them.
Arman Ahmed has done his MS in Clinical Psychology from Government College University, Lahore. He is also an alumni of Forman Christian College and Aitchison College Lahore. His research work includes experimental studies on concepts of emotion regulation, empathy and threatened egotism. His interests also extend to topics in the sphere of social psychology such as locus of control and superstitions.
Editor: Arman Ahmed
For instance, the decision to tidy up my room doesn’t seem so important when weighed against the work assignment that I am due to submit by the end of the week. However, there are times when we fail to take timely action on things that we care deeply about. This is where the problem of procrastination becomes a vexing affair.
Research has indicated that a lot of people tend to fall prey to a more subtle form of procrastination. This is a sly variety of procrastination that sneaks up on us disguised as productivity. It gives us the illusion that we are doing the best that we can and are investing our energy in the most productive endeavor. It is mostly in retrospect that we realize how we have been preoccupied with the wrong activity and have neglected the more important ones. When this mirage of forward movement restricts us from making any actual progress, there are certain forms of procrastination that might be at play.
The myth that perfectionism makes people perform better has been largely debunked. The practice of refusing to accept any standard that is less than perfect, has actually been linked to a number of negative health consequences. It is associated with anxiety, depression, task avoidance and interpersonal conflicts just to name a few.