Procrastination, a problem?

Procrastination
Darren Shaw (President of the Psychological Society) explains why we procrastinate

One of the most common student-related behaviours found in higher education is procrastination.

Through my research focusing on a sample of students at Birkbeck College, University of London, I’ve found that the problem with procrastination is not the behaviour itself; it’s the lack of self-control that is around this type of behaviour.

This view is heavily supported by current research in the field of self-control in the psychological sciences literature.

In this context, self-control means the regulation of one’s own behaviour, thoughts and emotions, in line with whatever goal one is working towards achieving however: procrastination in and of itself isn’t bad at all!

What do I mean by this? Well, if you think about it, there are probably plenty of behaviours and habits that a person should put off and never get around to doing.

For example, if a smoker procrastinates smoking their next cigarette in order to quit, then that’s a great thing. Or putting off eating cream cake might also be a useful thing to do.

So, in this vein, maybe the reason people find it so hard to solve the riddle of procrastination, is down to the refusal to notice who is doing the behaviour in the first place.

Whilst using the excuse of a natural behaviour that is actually useful, in order to cover up some underlying reason that is the real motivation behind not achieving whatever it is that isn’t being achieved.

From my research in this area, I’ve found that the typical reasons that people put things off are quite obvious and simple:

  • There is a reluctance to do it
  • There is a resistance to give into authority
  • Time management issues
  • Performing under pressure becomes a habit which then becomes repetitive

Instead of worrying about procrastination or wondering why you do it-  chill out! Recognise that you just don’t want to do whatever it is.

Remember the responsibility doesn’t belong to anyone else but yourself and it is your decision to make on how badly you want to achieve the goal.

Written by Darren Shaw  (President of Psychological Society)

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