Lake Superior State University
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Ariel Kelly, a Park and Recreation graduate who is a park ranger at Yosemite National Park, was interviewed as part of a program feature that highlights beautiful places in America.

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The Tendency to Procrastinate

Many students are afflicted with the procrastination tendency. Up to 70 percent of them identify as procrastinators, according to Psychology Today (Oct. 28, 2003). It’s what keeps them up all night cramming or finishing papers. It’s what causes them to tell you they’ll do something but not follow through. It’s an affliction with both mental and physical impacts.

Procrastination isn’t just a form of laziness. It comes about for a variety of reasons, including:

  • avoiding negative experiences
  • depression
  • self-judgment
  • anticipating the worst
  • a need for love
  • perfectionism
  • a rigid identity
  • fear of others’ response
  • a lack of training
  • low tolerance for frustration
  • being passive
  • hostility
  • not feeling like life is fair
  • being overextended

While many of us have procrastination tendencies, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are full-fledged procrastinators. Some of us may simply be putting way too much on our daily To Do lists. Dr. Joseph Ferrari, an associate professor of psychology at DePaul University (IL), told Psychology Today (Oct. 28, 2003) that real procrastinators do five telltale things:

  • Underestimate how much time it’ll take to get something done.
  • Overestimate the amount of time they have left to get something done.
  • Overestimate how motivated they’ll feel the “next time” when they expect they’ll get something done.
  • Mistakenly believe that working when they’re not in the mood is less than optimal.
  • Mistakenly believe that, in order to succeed at a task, they need to feel like doing it.

We’ve all seen procrastinators do everything but what they need to be doing, whether it’s checking email, going out, taking on other projects or finding people and tasks to distract them.

To help students deal with procrastination and develop healthier habits, many campuses have developed online support mechanisms. For instance, the Academic Learning Lab at Ohio State offers an online Procrastinators’ Support Center to help people who procrastinate. This website at http://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/dontdelay/ offers the following:

  • Procrastination busting techniques
  • A “That’s Me, That’s Not Me” quiz
  • Last-minute study tips
  • Guidelines for making a Q&A outline
  • Ideas for dealing with test anxiety
  • A sample weekly time chart
  • A weekly Self-Talk form
  • A plan to beat procrastination
  • Ideas for taking breaks

This semester, resolve to help the procrastinators in your life. You’ll be helping them develop skills that will serve them well into the future.

Sources: “Ending Procrastination,” Psychology Today, Oct. 28, 2003; “Procrastination and Time Management,” University of Oregon Counseling and Testing Center, http://darkwing.oregon.edu/~counsel/procrastination.htm; The Procrastinators’ Support Center at Ohio State, http://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/dontdelay/

Procrastination Resources


Majoring in Liberal Studies...

Eliza Carte

Eliza Carte
Liberal Studies
Remus, MI

It is a smaller school so it is easy to get to know everyone. It has smaller class sizes so the faculty can get to know the students. [ more ]

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