By Nick Pryde | Posted: Wednesday July 5, 2017
Disappointing. Distracting. Dysfunctional.
For the past two weeks, I have indulged myself in ‘funny cat videos’ on Youtube, continuous google maps searches of exquisite locations, and endless episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ on Netflix. Yet, as the videos and shows begin to buffer and load, I see my pathetic reflection glare back at me. My subconscious mind begins to flood with memories of school work that will be due within the next while. Daunting. There is only one reason why this happens to me, and you may already know why. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not amazing at much. I’m your average student, really. But there is definitely one thing that I stick out like a sore thumb in, above everybody else, and that I proclaim my unfortunate love for. I regret to inform you, that this is the lifestyle of procrastination.
Procrastination. The action of delaying or postponing something. Exclaimed to us by the almighty Google, of which I spend countless hours upon searching for different areas I want to travel to in the future. This procrastination thing is one of my key attributes now, got it nailed! It’s sad, really. So dedicated to accepting a workload that I believe I am capable of, set myself the goal of completing, or surprisingly have the aspiration to do. Yet, when it comes down to do, I’m so fixated in putting that work off. It’s times like these that the question, ‘Nick, what are you doing with your life?” swirls my mind like a cyclone. But just as the motivation, determination, and desire begin to come back to me, it becomes apparent that I procrastinate - AGAIN.
Frightening. The truth is, I’m not proud of it. In fact, I can’t even make eye contact with my peers. For years I have been, and chosen to be, surrounded by people who get stuck in and knuckle down to get the work done. The fear of falling behind or catching up probably makes them tremble, and fair enough too, I respect that a tonne! The drive to success is definitely something that I aspire to have one day, and by one day I mean I’m procrastinating THAT too.
Procrastination lurks around every corner, stays in our shadows, and haunts our minds day in day out, whether it's avoiding study, house chores, work, socializing, or all of the above. However living in a time where we have access to almost anything on the internet, how can we contain our curiosity? The desperation to know what is going on in the world, overshadows our motivation to complete important tasks that we aren't too keen on and we end up reading irrelevant news about how much bigger Kim Kardashian's butt has gotten. Typically when we procrastinate we leave things to the last minute and find ourselves running around like headless chickens, all because we prioritize the more enjoyable activities in life, such as binge watching 'Grey's Anatomy' or catching up with mates, over the boring, life-draining activities, like studying and washing the dishes. We tend to dig ourselves into a ditch of regrets as we reluctantly rush to complete the tasks that were overthrown by procrastination. So why? Why are we like this?
Psychologists explain the behavior of procrastination using Sigmund Freud’s (founder of the psychodynamic approach) pleasure principle. This principle means immediately satisfying impulses that derive from one's 'ID', which in Freudian psychoanalysis is the personality trait that is constructed on unconscious desires that require instant gratification. In my case, watching too much ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.
People who are chronic procrastinators would, in this principle, have a strong 'ID'. This means that they have little or no will power when it comes to giving in to temptation and therefore passively please their subconscious preferences. Psychologists believe that procrastination is used as a defense mechanism, to help us cope with anxiety or confrontation and is often associated with ego-dystonic perfectionism. Ego-dystonic meaning, your emotions and behavior are in conflict, which sounds about right when you're stressfully watching Netflix at two o'clock in the morning, wondering where you're going to pull motivation to complete your biology internal due in the next day.
From a health perspective, procrastination is seen as fairly normal to a certain degree. Procrastination can be seen as a useful way to identify what tasks are more important than others. Conversely, excessive procrastination can impede normal functioning and could even result in additional health problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression, loss of personal productivity and social disapproval for avoiding responsibilities and commitments.
If we look at procrastination from a biological point of view, excessive procrastination could actually come down to the dysfunctionality of the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the section of the brain in charge of your impulses and decision making, so any abnormalities or injuries to this part of the brain, may influence excessive procrastination. Sounds like a legitimate excuse to hand in assignments late, "Sorry Miss, I injured my prefrontal cortex and it caused me to watch three seasons of 'Suits' instead of completing my homework".
Overall we procrastinate because the task we are putting off is not meaningful and important to us, so therefore it isn't a priority. In order to get things done, we have to find ways to make those tasks purposeful so we're not being sidetracked by all the unnecessary drama and chaos going on in the world, or by our own unconscious desires. Now, after a painful and long few hours, I can scuttle back into my burrow and watch a few more ‘funny cat videos’, the fat british shorthairs are next on my list; the squashed faces just make my day. I can also continue to scroll through google maps looking at interesting streets in the middle of India for endless hours. And finally, I can start the next season of ‘Breaking Bad’ that has been on hold for the time being.