My name is Lindsey and I am a procrastinator.*
Unfortunately, there is not a Procrastinators Anonymous group nearby that I can attend. Then again, I haven’t looked it up yet. I thought about starting one, but I didn’t get around to that either. I figured that people would always be coming to the meeting “next week” anyway.
But there is hope. Sept. 6 is Fight Procrastination Day. In preparation, I decided to prepare by learning more about what propels us to spend hours looking at YouTube videos of redubbed 80s music videos when we have largely unfinished twenty page research papers due in the morning. So in a spurt of actual productivity, I talked to Denise Hodgkin, associate professor at College Success Studies who is an expert on time management. Well, at least she is in theory.
“Some of my best tips have come because I’m a chronic procrastinator,” she says.
If experience is the best teacher, Hodgkin has learned well. And if the twelve step program works, awareness of why procrastination occurs is an essential first step.
“We get into habits and sometimes it feels like, ‘This is just how I am,’ ” Hodkins explains. “Some of us get addicted to deadline-oriented projects.”
If her in-class surveys are representative, 80 percent of UVU students have a problem with procrastination. A powerful adrenaline rush can accompany last-minute efforts and it’s easy to feel a sense of pride for the cunning it took to get an A on something thrown together 20 minutes before class.
“[But} what are the outcomes?” Hodgkin questions. “Burnout, fatigue, quality suffers, deadlines are missed. Most of them pretty much suck.”
So the problem is defined: A lot of us kind of like doing things last minute. But we kind of don’t like the problems procrastination creates, either. What is a student to do? It’s easy to focus on the success stories of last-minute triumphs. But awareness of the sacrifices being made can be a powerful force for change.
“Look for where the gaps in the alignment of procrastination and what matters to [you],” Hodgkins suggest. “Is this behavior in alignment with the things that matter the most to me? If the answer is no, then I need to change my behavior … Look at the problem with eating. I don’t have time to plan healthy meals and so I’m grabbing this bag of Doritos and soda. But health matters to me… so why did I do that?”
“Procrastination is a deceptive trap because we like to fool ourselves into thinking we’re highly effective,” Hodgkins states seriously. “The bummer is that sometimes we are.”
*Note to all of my professors who read this article: Of course I’m not doing my assignments for your class the night before. I have an organized alter ego putting lots of time and care into my work. It just tends to kick in a little later than I’d like…
For students interested in learning more about time management, Denise Hodgkin recommends signing up for CLSS 1200, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.