Procrastination

xpressmagazine

Don Menn's Glorious Brain
Written by Victor M. Rodriguez
Finally home after a hard day’s work, Airec Sysprasert immediately and almost reflexively  stays true to his routine. He opens his laptop, and, while he waits for his emails to load, he looks in the refrigerator and cabinets for something to whip up.

“I can begin my work only if I do these things first as soon as I come home,” explains Syprasert, a senior at San Francisco State University, “But even then, I get thrown off and I’ll be on the computer well into 4 a.m. trying to finish my work.”

When it comes to life in college, procrastination is a song and dance many students know all too well. It’s easy to get pulled away from the important school work, like reports and projects, when it means having fun or even just relaxing. After all, that paper is not due for another three weeks.

Once it hits the night before, however, one can only live with stress and regret. “Most of the time, I finish my assignments,” says Elizabeth Hernandez, a freshman at SFSU, “But they definitely could be better if they were done without procrastinating.”

According to a report by Piers Steel of the University of Calgary, research indicates three out of four college students consider themselves procrastinators. Steel asserts that these numbers could be on the rise with people making it a way of life and some even being chronically affected.


There are many factors that can be attributed to procrastination – whether it be sleeping, watching television, peer pressure, or web browsing. The rise of technology and easier access to the Internet surely plays some role.

“I get easily distracted by my phone or TV,” says Hernandez. “My friends will tell me that I have all week to do it if there’s somewhere they want me to go with them.”

Though she is trying to make college her priority, Hernandez says that this mentality has been with her since high school.

Though the question of, “Do you believe God exists?” sits in front of him, Anthony Choi decides to put off this analytical take-home exam from a philosophy class.  Instead he switches from the desktop screen to YouTube.

“We were given a week to do it,” says Choi, a 21-year-old student at Skyline College, “But I figured since it was only two pages of backing up with arguments about what I think, I just kept putting it off.”

After leaving it for the next morning, he hits the snooze button that begins at 5 a.m. until he finally rises two hours later. Putting on his black GI glasses and sitting on a computer chair short a wheel, he leans forward to begin the first paragraph, only to worry about the multiple choice segment of the test in-class.

Many times procrastination stems from the emotions or mental behavior of one’s surroundings, like boredom or lack of self-confidence, some people just cannot help it.

“I was diagnosed with ADD [attention deficit disorder] when I was a kid,” says Syprasert, “But we had no insurance or anything like that to buy the prescriptions, so I pretty much just deal with it the best I can.”

Attention deficit disorder, one of the developmental disorders linked to ADHD, is a mental complex where short attention spans and forgetfulness take over. It also contributes to the circumstances of procrastination.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Green, professor of English at SFSU, the majority of students begin each semester with the best of intentions.

“The idea of procrastination can be owed to many things,” Green says. “Many students are under tremendous pressure from their jobs, classes they may not want, or even the cash crisis that both students and faculty deal with.”

In some way, Dr. Green contends that there is a correlation between the budget issues that students deal with and the jobs they hold to make up for any of their finances. In the process, schoolwork is put off by various senses of anxiety, depression, or despair. Becoming a question of morale, many students fail to prioritize on college work and focus on other things.

“It can be very hard for students to fight and advocate for school when there is persistently no change in the system,” he says, attributing some of the issues to patterns in the public education and college systems.

The issue can many times affect the quality of the work and affect attendance and performance in classes.

“I missed my first two classes in the morning,” says Choi. “I had been up early doing bits and pieces until I finished in time to turn it in at 12:20 p.m.”

Professors alike will sometimes notice that a paper was done in the nick of time, so they make adjustments.

“Some papers I receive are good, adequate or below adequate,” says Dr. Green. As he reclines in his chair, he explains the nature of how he assigns papers. “I try to evaluate the purpose of the assignments in relation to the class.”

Psychologically speaking, there is no certain way to discern and tackle the problem of putting off tasks. Most are still up for debate on what the causes are and what can be done to remedy the situation. It seems that no matter how many times a promise is made to change, it always comes back to square one.

“I tell myself that I’m going to do it the day it’s assigned; it still ends up being done the day before,” says Hernandez of her assignments.

Dr. Green claims that one can make good use of any services available that can help in propelling the assignment to be done well and on-time.

“Services like tutoring, counseling, or even study groups can benefit the ones who seek the help,” he says. “It can give that sense of community to motivate.”

Sure, it’s tempting to want to finish up that video game that is so entrancing, or to find out who the killer is at 9 p.m. Yet, there has to be a fine line between prioritizing and timing oneself so as not to stress completely. A lot of students are not the best at this, but maybe by taking it day-by-day and piece-by-piece, it will be done. Or maybe everyone can just begin to live by that philosophy tomorrow, or whenever it’s due.