Hello! This is my first blog post. My friends have said that I should start blogging about my interests in science and health a while ago when I started to spam my Facebook with links and my opinions. I put it off because it took a lot of work. Now that I am taking JRN 504 Using Digital Media at Stony Brook University, I have to make a blog so even though it is taking me some time, here it is!
From Wikipedia: Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline.
Do you procrastinate?
I definitely do. We all have many different tasks that we have to do each day and each task has a different level of priority. In an ideal world, we would finish all of our work well before any of it is due so that we can spend more time doing something else. Unfortunately that is not what most of us do.
We all have our own way of trying remind ourselves to focus on completing our work – checklists, post-its, emails, calendars, alarms, and there are many more.
Don’t feel bad though! In a survey of more than 24,000 people from around the world, Dr. Piers Steel found that 95% of all people surveyed admitted that they procrastinated to some degree. Specifically, about 25% are chronic procrastinators, which is five times the rate in the 1970s. He says that this increase can be blamed on the increasing flexible nature of jobs with workers procrastinating for 25% of their day and students procrastinating about 33% of their day. (I want to find the source or publication where he has this information but I can’t find it right now so I will do it later.)
You can take Dr. Steel’s survey here. I did and that helped me waste about 1 minute of time from working on this blog post. I had said that my procrastination isn’t a big issue. When I submitted my response these were the results so far from other procrastinators:
My procrastination is annoying 41.56% (5,189 votes)
My procrastination isn’t a big issue 6.11% (763 votes)
I’ll tell you later 4.4% (549 votes)
My procrastination is a helpful habit 1.66% (207 votes)
Other: 0% (39 votes)
I always emailed myself lists of things to do each month, that week, down to the To Do for a particular day to really force myself to get things done. Of course there were things on the list that were more important than others, but as long as I crossed off some of the things on my list, I felt extremely satisfied and accomplished. So in my head, I didn’t consider this to be procrastination at all even though I was sometimes putting off more important things to do other things I had to do.
I first learned that there was science behind what I did from John Tierney’s piece in the NY Times. Yes!! This particular type of procrastination is coined “positive procrastination,” but it also goes by “productive procrastination” from Dr. Piers Steel, as well as “structured procrastination,” which is described by Dr. John Perry who realized that “Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing.” He says that all procrastinators delay working on things that they have to do, but structured procrastination is “the art of making this bad trait work for you.” The basic strategy is to have a prioritized task list and completing even the tasks that are lower in priority will put off doing the more important tasks, but in this way the procrastinator still is effectively getting work done.
Now what happens if the procrastinator slowly gets all the tasks of lower priority done and avoids the tasks at the top of the list altogether? Dr. Perry has something to say about that too. He says that “the trick is to pick the right sorts of projects for the top of the list.” The right sorts of projects: (1) appear to have clear deadlines but don’t, and (2) seem really important but are not. By picking such projects, you will not be completely screwed when you put these off. Of course with this in mind, positive procrastination is not for everyone.
Get back to work!
I think you have taken up enough of your time to read this blog post and even more time if you clicked on the hyperlinks, which do lead to more interesting readings. Completing this first blog post was on the top of my list of things to do today so I feel pretty accomplished. Cheers to all of you positive procrastinators and I will post again soon to take another few minutes away from your day!
Thanks for your time!
“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” ~ Christopher Parker, actor