Procrastination: The Bane of Researchers Part 1

Joshua
Procrastination: The Bane of Researchers Part 1

It’s Monday morning, and the clock ticks away steadily. Satya is working furiously towards the completion of an assignment to be submitted by the deadline of three o’clock, all the while looking at the clock and vociferously cursing himself for delaying the work.

How did this take place? Where did Satya goof up? Why did he lose his focus?

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow! – Mark Twain

Well, that’s Mark Twain for you, witty as ever, and he hits the nail on the head every time. But seriously, we have seen that this is a common problem that researchers face. We think that we have a lot of time (say, three years?) to wind up matters, and towards the end it becomes a mad rush to get things done, with everything spinning out of control. So let’s get into Satya’s mind and find out about procrastination.

Why do we wait until the last minute to get going? Let us look for some answers.

Most people procrastinate to some degree at some time or the other. Regardless of how meticulous one is, one fritters away precious time on frivolous pursuits like viewing TV, browsing, updating one’s FB status, and so on instead of productive work. It would not be an understatement to state that procrastination impacts one’s job, academics, and even life.

Researchers have noted that this issue is particularly prevalent among students. About 25%–75% of college students goof off on academics. A study conducted in2007 observed that a massive 80%–95% of college goers procrastinated regularly, in particular during completion of assignments and coursework. Another survey in1997 noted that procrastination was among the top reasons for Ph.D. candidates not completing their dissertations.

Procrastination 1
This year I’ve decided to stop procrastinating. And I’m starting tomorrow!

As per researchers Ferrari et al. (1995) in their book Procrastination and Task Avoidance –

Theory, Research and Treatment have listed certain key cognition aberrations that result in academic procrastination:

  • Overestimating pending time for performing tasks,
  • Overestimating their future motivations,
  • Underestimating time needed to complete certain activities, and
  • Erroneously assuming that their frame of mind needs to be ‘right’ to start a project,

Don’t a few of the above seem familiar? Perhaps, we thought, a week for completing those trials was sufficient, and it turned out it wasn’t? Or, we put off the course we needed to take this semester saying “don’t feel like it right now”?

Often, we assume that projects would be finished sooner, which lulls us into false sense of security thinking there still is plenty of time. Procrastination stems from the notion that we need to be motivated to start a task at a given moment, while the truth is that if one waits for that ‘right frame of mind’ to do perform challenging assignments, this ‘right time’ seldom comes, and thus, the assignment forever remains incomplete.

Being insecure in one’s abilities, too, could make one procrastinate, as one would find oneself putting it off to perform simpler assignments.

Dear reader, this blog is the first of a two-part series. Stay tuned on this blog for the next part which will be published.

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