What is procrastination?
Even if we only take into account how hard it is to pronounce “procrastinate”, you would think that a word like this probably refers to something awful, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But you probably didn’t know that it is something quite common and widespread, because all of us tend to procrastinate to some extent. Below, I will focus on student procrastination and a new solution called STUDEAM.
The word is becoming more common in Spanish-speaking environments, but it is ubiquitous in the world of time management and increasingly in the educational community. Constructed from Latin, it means “to leave for tomorrow”. Its more technical side consists of repeatedly postponing the completion of tasks until the moment in which we find ourselves at a loss because we cannot finish them on time.
It’s not just about being lazy
“Man! I’ve been so lazy! Always leaving things to the last minute!” The truth is that it is a phenomenon with different aspects and several possible causes. Procrastination is not just the bane of people who are disorganized, but also of perfectionists. The truth is that a large part of the population suffers from it. For example, around 20% of the world’s population struggles with chronic procrastination, which has negative professional and personal consequences. Therefore, it affects the health and psychological well-being of the procrastinator, who lives in constant tension, which can also have effects on their job productivity and lead to economic losses.
What Factors Cause Procrastination?
Fear, anxiety, disgust, low self-control, high demands on oneself, etc. are some of the main factors that trigger procrastination. In exchange for a certain well-being in the present, procrastinators stop looking at their long term goals. They delay them for later, paying the toll by dealing with a soft underlying unease before the set of tasks hidden in the future becomes an indefinite bulk that does not stop growing.
The capacity for self-deception of the human being is enormously powerful. For example, when we do not like something, because it stresses or threatens us, we can put our head in the ground like an ostrich, we know how to look the other way and distract our attention to prolong our apparent comfort.
Time has a certain elasticity, and we think that we can always try harder at the last minute to get things done. But that is usually a fairytale with a tragic ending. Can you be happy and procrastinate regularly? Probably not.
The effects of procrastination on our education
In fields such as education, procrastination is singled out as an enemy of the first order. According to well-contrasted pedagogical studies, most American college students procrastinate. The same happens in the United Kingdom, Spain, or Turkey.
It is certainly a phenomenon that oscillates depending on the culture: Students from Asia procrastinate significantly less, but in the East the numbers are also important. The “normal” Spanish student does not study for exams until the days immediately before they begin, which is also the first time they begin studying the content. The horror of exams is closely related to anxiety in the face of an unsure effort, always at the last minute.
Poor time management, poor learning
These “cultural” patterns of behaviour are socially assumed, to the point that the teachers themselves reduce the difficulty of the exams by reducing the amount of content and increasing the number of tests. The result is that the student does not cultivate his long-term memory or develop a habit of planned and calm study. What is not required ends up not being studied, and no one rewards the student who gets an A with a patient and well-planned study program compared to the one who gets the same grade by binge-studying on the last day. And yet the difference is huge.
Educating in proper time management is important, as early as possible. It is essential for professional development, but it also contributes to a reasonable and happy life.
Educate in time management and planning
We can and should be educated in proper time management. If we pay attention to pedagogical studies, there is no doubt that it is the factor where most can be done to improve academic performance.
Procrastination and bad study habits are used to predict early school dropouts, and the economic losses related to this concept are considered to be in the billions. Strong study habits, however, are linked to better academic performance.
For this purpose, it is necessary (among other things) to offer tools to help students plan the way they approach studying. Thus, procrastinators begin to become aware of their reality and the consequences of their decision to delay tasks. Good planning anticipates the shortage of time and helps us focus our efforts on getting things done.
An app to avoid procrastination: STUDEAM
But since programming ahead of time is difficult and requires a good amount of honesty with oneself, Task & Time offers a tool to lower this first obstacle with an automatic planner, immune to self-deception. We have created STUDEAM, something dreamed of by so many students who confessed their laziness to put in order and clarify their long list of pending tasks. It is not an agenda, it is not another calendar app or a regular task manager, it is a true study planner. Take a look, it might surprise you:
But let’s not kid ourselves: oftentimes, this will not be enough … Planning well does not imply that students comply, rather it will help them to see the great distance that there is between what should happen and what they can actually achieve. This effort requires perseverance and probably the feeling of being “held accountable” every day, that is, by someone with whom they share their daily activities and for whom the student feels that they should strive. That person could be a parent, a tutor, a private teacher, a coach, or a good friend. Someone to trust, who accepts us as we are and helps us achieve our goals.
Luis Javier Álvarez
CEO of Task & Time