The wave of relief after completing a school assignment it’s due can give a sense of accomplishment. However, following the rush of adrenaline, the fatigue from pulling an all-nighter to draft a “great” essay kicks in.
Though a student may feel like she is the only one who puts off assignments, hundreds of students at Nation Ford High School procrastinate. In a survey taken on March 15th, eighty-five percent of them admitted to procrastinating on schoolwork at least once.
Even though it may seem shocking, teachers procrastinate as well.
“Life is busy…I think everyone procrastinates at some point, including me,” High School 101 teacher Renne Kozlowski confesses.
One of the main reasons students procrastinate is because they would rather do something they enjoy rather than something they don’t.
“If people are not looking forward to doing something, for example, spring cleaning, they may procrastinate on it,” Kozlowski says.
Some students find it easier to procrastinate when working alone. When students are not in a classroom environment, it can be harder to focus or put in the full effort when working on school work.
“I get caught up doing other things,” Amir Kaveh (‘24) said. “When we were on a hybrid schedule, I procrastinated more on my virtual days because I was at home and not at school.”
Fear of failure and wanting an assignment to be perfect is another cause of procrastination.
“Procrastination can be linked to perfectionism,” Hannah Papin (‘23) said. “The fear of
failure or feeling like you won’t know how to do something keeps you from actually getting it done.”
Hannah is not alone in this feeling. Several students sometimes have trouble starting an assignment for fear of not doing it accordingly.
“I’m a perfectionist. I get anxious about the work because I know I won’t be able to do it properly. In the end, I will always finish my work, but I procrastinate more because I’m just anxious at the thought of work,” Mili Shah (‘23) said.
At first, putting off homework may sound like the best idea, but as time passes and the deadline gets closer procrastination will likely increase anxiety and stress levels.
“Procrastination does affect my mental health. When I put everything off to the last minute, like I do all the time, I get overwhelmed by all of the work I have to do. This puts me in the worst mood and state of mind,” Julia Wolman (‘24) said.
When students start to fall behind, they may begin to feel overwhelmed, which can lead to difficulty catching up.
“Unfortunately, procrastination can affect grades,” Kozlowski says. “Students who turn in last-minute assignments or late work overall typically receive lower scores and grades.”
Procrastination finds its roots in our biology. The limbic system is one of the brain’s oldest and most influential parts of the brain; it has a strong connection to the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and planning.
Because the limbic system is so dominant, it often triumphs, resulting in procrastination. Procrastination can be viewed as a conflict against a person’s current and future self. Due to the neuroplasticity of human brains (the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization), overcoming procrastination is possible.
The topic of procrastination, and how to avoid it, is included in the High School 101 curriculum.
“Ninety percent of freshmen procrastinate,” Kozlowski says. “In class, we discuss ways to help students become prioritizers instead of procrastinators.”
Though procrastination is a habit many feel that they cannot escape from, there are a few effective tactics to combat it.
“Plan weekly.” Kozlowski explains.“Step one: identify your big rocks, otherwise known as the most important things. Step two: block out time for big rocks. Step three: schedule everything else.”
Kozlowski also suggests using a planner, learning how to adapt daily, and staying committed to schoolwork or other work that needs to get done.
“In High School 101, teaching time management and study skills are helpful—if the students are willing to use the tools and tips given and make them a habit.”