To procrastinate, or not to procrastinate?

Some pros and cons to every student’s frenemy

Scroll through a student’s newsfeed, and within seconds you’ll likely come across a status update bemoaning the vices of procrastination. According to business blogger Brandon Gaille, this putting off of one task in favour of doing something of lesser importance affects more than 20 per cent of the population. It’s virtually ubiquitous among millennials.

Procrastination is detrimental when it goes unrecognized as a coping mechanism for deeper rooted issues — like perfectionism, insecurity or apathy — but it can be put to good use.

Pro: Ideas get better with time.

When it comes to creative projects, inspiration, like good writing, typically goes through a few “drafts” before it is ready. Sitting on an idea may seem pointless, but taking a break and coming back with fresh eyes is crucial to the development process. Sometimes, the mind needs a change of scenery in order to see problems in a new light and find solutions.

Con: Good ideas take time to realize.

Starting on something too close to the deadline leaves little margin for error, troubleshooting, or refinement. An ambitious project is bound to run into problems, or require a few additional steps along the way. Without ample time, it may fall short of the original vision.

Pro: Pressure aids productivity.

The adrenaline of an impending due date supplies extra oxygen to the brain, allowing it to operate more quickly. On deadline, our body’s natural survival instincts can curb those perfectionist tendencies and finish a paper more quickly and efficiently. Certain people are wired to perform better under pressure and produce a better result for it.

Con: Excessive stress is physically and mentally damaging.

Doing everything at the last minute can be overwhelming. When work piles up, the accompanying stress throws off our diet, sleep patterns, and immune system, leading to hormonal imbalances or anxiety. Giving in to procrastination also weakens our self-control and encourages the brain to make impulsive decisions.

Pro: Procrastination gets other things done.

Unproductivity is not always the default mode. Often times, when avoiding homework, completing smaller mundane tasks, such as reading e-mails or washing the dishes, become the distraction. Then, once a few things are checked off the to-do list, there is motivation to keep going.

Con: Procrastination can become a bad habit.

Like trying to stop at watching just one episode of an exciting TV show, controlling the length and frequency of study breaks can be challenging. Procrastination quickly becomes a necessary step in the process of doing work. When it trickles into other areas of our lives, such as making appointments, or filing taxes, the consequences could be more significant.

Photo (FlickrCC) by Brianna Saba.

Originally published in Issue 19 of Converge Magazine.