Procrastination is about...emotions

Procrastination  Self-Control  BYU  BGS  Independent Study

My mom often jokes that this one decision she made when I was 17 saved our relationship:

She hired me a tutor to get me through my Junior and Senior years of high school.

Now, this wasn’t a tutor in the traditional sense, because she never spent any time teaching me any of my subject materials. Her job was to help me make a to-do list of upcoming school assignments and then keep me accountable to get those things done and turned in. Nowadays, we probably would have called her an “academic coach,” but that wasn’t a term used back then.

The problem was (and still occasionally is) that I am a master procrastinator.

(There’s more layers to this story than I’ll go into here, but the fact remains that I struggle with procrastination.)

I think that 2020 has brought new challenges when it comes to procrastination. Between the concerns about health and safety, the changes to routine, and limits to our typical social circles, we’ve all been thrown for a loop. I know that I have struggled with procrastination more this year than in a long time. Apparently, it’s not just me. The more I talk to students, the more stories I hear about how they found they just couldn’t around to a task they knew they should do. On top of that, we all supposedly have “more time” because we’re stuck at home, so what does that say about us if we’re still procrastinating?

In the years I’ve spent as an academic advisor, I have heard students engage in all sorts of destructive “self-downing” because they view themselves as lazy. It turns out that this view of procrastination is more harmful than the procrastination itself. It robs us of confidence and tells us we aren’t worthy of the goals we have for ourselves.

A little over a year ago I read an amazing article on procrastination that changed my viewpoint about it significantly. I’ll encourage you to go and read it and think of ways you could change how you think about procrastination. As a preview, here’s my favorite paragraph:

“We must realize that, at its core, procrastination is about emotions, not productivity. The solution doesn’t involve downloading a time management app or learning new strategies for self-control. It has to do with managing our emotions in a new way.”

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