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OPINION: Procrastinating? You might want to be perfect

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The finals week frenzy is here, and those papers you have been putting off have piled up in the corners of your brain you refuse to visit. The calculations of how long you need to study to get an A on your final have become a problem you cannot solve. You shift your focus so the equation equals “this is common sense, I do not need to study.” Nonetheless, some feelings of shame are creeping in.

That feeling of failure threatens the confidence and knowledge you have acquired over the course of the semester. After all, you told yourself it would be different this time. You said you would log countless hours in the library so you could avoid the overwhelming stress consuming you now. 

 But hold on for a second and stop beating yourself up. If you take a look at your reasons for procrastinating, you can figure out what comes next.

In general, student procrastination is thought to be attributed to those with an unmotivated and lazy personality, but the reasons behind it are much more complex. Strategies to mitigate procrastination are often based on short-term solutions, like “make a list” or “do a little at a time.” The character of the procrastinator is attacked, but instead solutions should be based on getting to the root of the issue.  

First, consider your values. Research shows that there is a strong correlation between perfectionism and procrastination. Students who find value in continued and high levels of success often place unrealistic expectations on themselves, and may opt to delay work if they know it can’t be completed up to their standards.

Perfectionists usually fall into two categories of how they are motivated: intrinsically or extrinsically. Intrinsic perfectionists feel the need to be flawless for themselves, while extrinsic perfectionists are motivated by pressures to meet others’ expectations. Studies have shown perfectionists who procrastinate but are motivated intrinsically may show higher levels of academic performance, while extrinsically motivated perfectionists exhibit maladaptive behaviors with lower success in their schoolwork.

So, when it comes to schoolwork, ask yourself why you are really doing it. If you are motivated by your personal goals and have a love for learning, it is likely that you exhibit intrinsic motivation, and are probably an active procrastinator. Active procrastination can be defined as adaptive, intentional delays in work completion in order to be motivated by the pressure of a looming deadline.

On the other hand, if you are motivated in order to meet someone else’s expectations, you have extrinsic motivation and are likely a passive procrastinator. Passive procrastinators’ behavior is maladaptive, often characterized by the frustrating struggle to make a decision towards completing assignments within a reasonable timeframe. 

The bottom line is this: assign personal value to the work you are doing in order to avoid procrastination. 

You might value getting your work done because you plan to go to graduate school and need to keep your GPA up. Or maybe you do your work because you value time with your friends, and want to hang out with them on the weekend instead of being stuck in the library. Both are valid, intrinsic motivators are more likely to provide sustainable motivation. Keep your values in mind, be gentle with yourself and go get some work done. 

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About the Contributor
Liv DelPrete, Opinion Writer
Liv DelPrete is a Junior Biology major from Narragansett, Rhode Island.
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    Harold CampbellDec 9, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Procrastination will be a part of all aspects of your life. I have extensive experience with procrastinating. I graduated from App in 1974. Many of my class assignments were frequently done at the last minute. Even today, 50 years later, many of my work tasks and assignments at are turned in at the last minute. (Yes, I am still working )… Occasionally I don’t even do them.

    Many people confuse procrastinating with prioritizing. In college and in work, you always have more than one task to do. So, you grind through them in their order of importance. Oddly enough at work some tasks just disappear, upper management forgets about the task or decides it wasn’t necessary in the first place. With experience you learn to ignore tasks that are unimportant or merely someone’s pet project. So is it procrastinating or prioritizing??? I say, prioritizing and focusing on what is truly important.

    A simple natural law of employment: Work expands to fill the time alloted. People will always take all of the time given to complete a task.

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