Informational writing competition: second place

Editors’ note: All seventh grade students were required to write an informational writing piece in English class during the spring semester. All pieces were then shared with the students in the grade anonymously, and the students chose eight pieces to submit to The Scroll for judging, also without the students’ names attached. The editors of The Scroll read all eight articles and chose what they considered to be the best three pieces based on strength of writing and organization of information.

Procrastination: Just Do It… Later

by Daniel de Beer

It’s Sunday night and the clock is ticking. You’re typing furiously to complete your ten-page essay by ten o’clock while screaming at yourself for not doing it earlier. Sounds familiar? We all procrastinate from time to time. Procrastination affects almost all of us, and people are always struggling to combat it. Whether it’s your confusing math homework or your time-wasting chores, you just want to postpone it for later.

What is procrastination and how does it affect us?
Procrastination is the act of carrying out less urgent or less important tasks instead of more urgent ones, or doing things that are more fun instead of less fun, making it so that the urgent tasks are delayed to a later time. Basically, it’s when you put off some work that you don’t want to do, and instead, you do something that is easier or more fun. “Procrastinating can affect your health in two ways – one involves stress, and the other involves behaviors that have a poor impact on health.” states an article on the CureJoy website. There is definitely a connection between procrastination and stress. Putting off important tasks can result in a lot of stress, like missing deadlines or having to do work at the last minute possible. Procrastination is also linked to your health. Procrastinating can lead to poor sleep quality. If you procrastinate too much, you may have to stay up at night finishing up all the work that you missed. This results in being more tired during the day and decreasing your attentiveness and focus. Additionally, procrastination can also lead to cardiovascular disease and hypertension, which are both diseases caused by overwhelming stress.

How many people procrastinate, and what do they do?
You might be thinking, “well, am I the only one? How many others are there?”. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent survey taken in a seventh grade English classroom at the American School in London concluded that of the 63 students that were surveyed, 85 percent of them procrastinate to some degree. None of them said that they never procrastinated. All of the students said that they do the same things while procrastinating: social media, YouTube, and Netflix. These are the most common activities that teenagers are found doing when they don’t want to do their work. This is important because it shows that all of the activities that the teenagers’ activities are all addictive and continuous. For example, when someone is watching a video on YouTube, they get interested and keep on watching another video on the same said topic. In Netflix, they keep on watching the same series until they are finished, a new phenomenon called binge-watching. This explains why so many teenagers do these activities all the time while they are procrastinating. Instead of doing their required work, they are hooked and sucked into whatever they are doing instead of work, causing them to lose even more work time.

“Procrastination is the thief of time” – Edward Young, renowned English poet.

Is procrastination the same as being lazy?
Procrastination is in fact not the same as laziness. They are often confused with each other, but they are very different things. Procrastination is an active process, meaning you choose to do it. You are choosing to do something else instead of what you should be doing, while laziness suggests inactivity and an unwillingness to act. Additionally, procrastination is when you ignore something that you know is there, while laziness is when you just do the least as possible to get by.

How can I stop procrastinating?
As with most habits, it is possible to overcome procrastination.There are three main steps to overcome procrastination: recognize that you are procrastinating, work out why you’re procrastinating, and adopt anti-procrastination strategies.

  • First, you have to recognize that you are procrastinating. The article How to Stop Procrastinating by MindTools, a renowned mental health management organization, states “If you’re briefly delaying an important task for a genuinely good reason, then you aren’t necessarily procrastinating. However, if you start to put things off indefinitely, or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you probably are.” If you think that you are actively delaying tasks such as sending emails or doing homework to do things that are less boring or time-taking, then you are probably procrastinating.
  • Second, you have to find out why you’re procrastinating. “You need to understand the reasons why you are procrastinating before you can begin to tackle it” (MindTools). Are you trying to avoid a task because you don’t find it fun or pleasant? If so, then you are probably a procrastinator. You have to take action quickly, so that you can stop procrastinating and focus on your work.
  • Finally, you have to take action and adopt some anti-procrastination strategies. “Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can’t break it overnight” (MindTools). There are many anti-procrastination strategies that you can use.

Does procrastination have any benefits at all?
Procrastination does, in fact, have some benefits. An article from the New York Times named Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate claims that procrastination can make you more creative and can give more thought into your work. “A few years ago, though, one of my most creative students, Jihae Shin, questioned my expeditious habits. She told me her most original ideas came to her after she procrastinated. I challenged her to prove it. She got access to a couple of companies, surveyed people on how often they procrastinated, and asked their supervisors to rate their creativity. Procrastinators earned significantly higher creativity scores than pre-crastinators like me” (Adam Grant). His point is that a procrastinator’s idea will be more creative than someone that instantly does their work. While procrastinating, it gives them more time and thought to process what they are doing. Additionally, a lot of their ideas for projects or essays were forged while procrastinating. So yes, procrastination does have one perk.

In conclusion, procrastination can be harmful, reduce morale, and even lead to depression and job loss, so it’s crucial to take proactive steps to prevent it. Procrastination is a serious issue for many people, and that is why it has to be addressed. As you saw in the survey, there are already many teenagers in middle school that are facing this problem. Procrastination has to be stopped, and stopped fast. Now that more and more people are using technology, it is becoming much easier to procrastinate because of the freedom of the internet, and that is why people have to adopt anti-procrastination strategies. If people don’t take action now, it will keep on getting harder and harder to do so.

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