Procrastinating doesn’t mean you’re lazy

Image by: Herbert Wang

This article discusses mental illness and suicide and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-833-456-4566.

Procrastination is inevitable and its victims shouldn’t be called lazy when seeking help.

Procrastination can be described as difficulty regulating time, which can result in the delay of important tasks despite an awareness of the negative consequences. Being in the wrong mindset to complete a task can make you feel like a failure—and it’s worse in university, when it seems delaying work could affect your entire future.

For so long, procrastination has been attributed to laziness, avoidance of hard work or stressful situations.

Most students in university today have grown up in an age of digital media. As we matured, so did our technology, becoming more convenient, accessible, and even necessary to use.

Those who procrastinate often overestimate how much time they have to perform a task. Our reliance on technology has exacerbated this distortion because technology shortens the time it takes to complete many tasks—like typing instead of writing by hand or researching on a laptop instead of flipping through a heavy encyclopedia.

The looming presence of technology justifies students’ constant glances at our phones.

These glances offer instant gratification, an alternative to the feeling of completing a long-term task. This phenomenon of settling for a smaller, more immediate reward rather than waiting for a larger reward in the future is called present bias. This form of bias is reinforced by serious mental health conditions such as attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression.

ADHD goes undiagnosed in many adults, who must find ways to navigate distracting thoughts and stimuli when performing simple tasks. Affected individuals may have the desire to make something perfect, but be overcome with insecurity and fear of failure, a form of maladaptive perfectionism sometimes linked to OCD. Depression and feelings of hopelessness can easily overcome motivation, and make tasks feel more and more meaningless.

Educators often dismiss these complex, debilitating feelings, as they are difficult to diagnose and get in the way of academic progress.

Combating procrastination feels like a massive undertaking when you’re in school and every task could play a part in your success. Recognizing that procrastination is more than laziness is half the battle, but completing your tasks may necessitate asking for help.

I won’t tell you to make a to-do list and send you on your way. Queen’s has resources to help you—SASS, peer tutoring, mental health aid through Student Wellness, and many others. I encourage you to use those resources or others, but I’ve put that off more times than I can count as well.

The only advice I’m qualified to give is to be informed, be sympathetic, and to take your time.

Joseph is a fourth-year English and film student and The Journal’s Assistant Photo Editor.


Mental health, Procrastination

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