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On Procrastination

I was intrigued to read this recent article by Charlotte Lieberman, “Why You Procrastinate.” She unpacks what motivates people to procrastinate.

Matt Levinson, Head of School

I tried my hand at procrastination when I was a sophomore in college. My roommate at the time was a proud procrastinator, and it seemed to be working really well for him. He would write his papers and study for his exams at the last minute, routinely pulling all-nighters, and he always aced his papers and exams. He seemed to have some magic formula. So, in the first semester of my sophomore year, I joined him for mid-terms and stayed up all night to write papers and study for exams. For me, it turned out to be a disaster. I was overcome with stress and anxiety and I didn’t do particularly well. What worked for him clearly did not work for me. This was an important turning point for me as a student.

I was intrigued to read this recent article by Charlotte Lieberman, “Why You Procrastinate.” She unpacks what motivates people to procrastinate: “Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.”

She goes on to talk about ways to help students cope with procrastination issues: “One option is to forgive yourself in the moments you procrastinate. In a 2010 study, researchers found that students who were able to forgive themselves for procrastinating when studying for a first exam ended up procrastinating less when studying for their next exam. They concluded that self-forgiveness supported productivity by allowing ‘the individual to move past their maladaptive behavior and focus on the upcoming examination without the burden of past acts.’”

My roommate thrived on the adrenaline rush he gained from waiting until the very last minute to do his work, and it helped him cope with the workload. For me, not so much.

I think you’ll enjoy reading the article. Consider your own habits and those of your student; an interesting discussion might well follow!

 



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