Procrastination is a dirty word…or is it?

Put it off, delay, think about it, sleep on it, push it back, adjourn, defer, dawdle, hold off, postpone, prolong, dilly-dally, shilly-shally….whatever you want to call it.

Procrastination is a dirty word at university. Yet we all seem to be guilty of doing it.There are many articles dedicated to why we procrastinate, and how to beat procrastination. We know what it is. We know to avoid it. Some of us do it on purpose (“I will have more time to do that task on Tuesday”), while others will do it without even noticing (“ooh Jess just posted something new of Facebook that I have to read”). Either way, it is very easy to berate ourselves for putting things off. But what if I told you that procrastinating could actually increase the quality of your work?procrastination

I am often telling my students not to leave their assignments to the last minute, but what they don’t know is that I am guilty as charged. Not only did I consistently do that myself throughout my undergraduate studies, that habit has stayed with me throughout my post-graduate studies. Most recently it seems that about 50% of the work on my Honours thesis was completed in the month before it was due. So who am I to offer advice?

While undertaking my Honours thesis I was under pressure to consistently write. I started out eager, but as I progressed I found myself putting off my writing. It was as I was writing my results and discussion sections that I found my procrastination was getting worse. However, it was also during this time that I found that I actually had time to stop and think. I could process my data in my own time and it really gave me time to analyze and come up with my conclusions. It is great to be able to step away from your work for a day or two and just let your ideas sit. The next time you look at your work it is likely to be through fresh eyes. I found this to be especially helpful when checking that everything flowed and made sense. My honours thesis did get finished, and even a day early (well only because that is when I had to send it off to get printed) and the time that I could walk away from my work greatly helped the quality.


I only just got around to adding this picture.

Your procrastination habit does become a problem however if you find yourself consistently missing deadlines. You may need to reevaluate your time management skills or look to reduce your workload if you find yourself constantly turning your work in late. However you should find that factoring in time to step away from your work will allow you process your work and will increase the quality of your work.


8 thoughts on “Procrastination is a dirty word…or is it?

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