Procrastination – A Hurdle In The Path Of Time Management


By Roshal Chinnu Vinu, Teaching Assistant, ITM SIA Business School


Do you always apologize for delayed work? Do you feel guilty that you missed the deadline again, for the umpteenth time? And if you did finish the work, it was at the last minute after scrambling with time? Do you always feel, you are short of time? Do you wish you had more than 24 hours in a day? Well, if you make a list of things which leads to your poor time management, you will find a monster in it –Procrastination!


Procrastination is a challenge, which we have faced at one point or another. We all procrastinate at some time or another, and researchers suggest that the problem can be more frequently found among students. An estimated 25 to 75 percent of college students procrastinate on academic work. One 2007 study found that a whopping 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinated on a regular basis, particularly when it came to completing assignments and coursework.


The word procrastination comes from the Latin word “procrastinare”, ‘Pro’ meaning “in favour of” and crastinus, ’till next day’. It is defined, therefore, as “The act or the habit of delaying or putting things off’. No doubt, it is a one-way ticket to stress, guilt and overwhelm.


When I browsed through many articles related to procrastination, I came across a special story. Though, it’s a silly one, I still personally feel that it carries a significant amount of impact.


 Well!!! It’s the baffling story of the turtle family


The family consists the father (Dad), mother (Mom) and Baby turtle. The Baby turtle was in fact very lethargic and used to postpone anything and everything assigned to him.


One day, the turtle family went for a picnic. When they arrived at the park, it appeared as if it was about to rain. So, Mom turtle told baby turtle to run home and get an umbrella so that they can enjoy the picnic as planned. However, baby turtle refused to go, but when dad turtle gave an angry look, he agreed, by taking a promise from his mother, that they shouldn’t start the lunch without him. To this, mom turtle assured her child that they would wait for him before eating their lunch.


With this confirmation, the baby turtle left. An hour passed away. Therefore, a full day passed. Neither Mom or Dad turtle ate anything and became very hungry. They wonder as to why it was taking their baby to return so long.


Finally, Mom turtle said to Dad turtle, “Well, he hasn’t come back yet. We might as well eat something.” At which point, the baby turtle poked his head out from behind a tree and screamed, “If you eat, I won’t go! I know, you will do this, that’s why I was hiding and watching what you will do!”


This is a silly story, but there is an extremely vital message here!!


The edification lay in the fact that Baby turtle reminds a lot of us of our habit of procrastination. His mom told him they would wait for him, but he chose to hide behind a tree and take rest. He wasted everyone’s time, and ruined the picnic that was orchestrated, all because, he was slothful and did not take the action required of him.


Now here comes the principal question as to – “why procrastination occurs”???Or “what is the reason for procrastination”??


In behavioural psychology, research has revealed a unique phenomenon called “Time inconsistency”. This phenomenon tries to expound and unravel as to why procrastination seems to pull us in – despite our best intentions. Time inconsistency, in fact, refers to the propensity of the human encephalon to value, immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.


The best way to understand this phenomenon is by imagining that essentially, we have two selves:  Present Self and Future Self. For example, if we are planning to set a goal towards losing our weight, the quest is about exploring our future self. Researchers have found that when we think about your Future Self, it is quite easy for your brain to see the value in acting with long-term benefits. The Future Self values long-term rewards.


To change our independent perspective of procrastination: we must make our present self-act immediately, i.e. while Future Self sets goals, the present self should work upon taking concrete actions. However, when the time comes for actual planning, it has been observed that we no longer make decisions for our future. Thus, though, we are in the present moment and our brain is thinking continuously about our present self; researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff. So, it can be concluded that, the Present Self and Future Self will always be at odds with one another.


In light of the above, according to Ken Munyua, a business support and training manager at Talent Recruit Limited in Nairobi, Kenya – “A habit which grows over time becomes a bad addiction. Do not form it; learn to concentrate on what is your task before any other duty”. He further adds that people should try their best and learn to avoid either human or technological distractions.


There are the great ways to stop procrastinating and get more things done faster:


Avoid delays: Always live to do what is expected now and not tomorrow!


Draw a plan: It is advisable to set priorities and consider the urgency of the work.


Write it down on paper: When it is written on paper, work becomes real and demands a certain degree of commitment.


Set personal deadlines before the stipulated ones: This ensures that you are always ahead.


Reward yourself: Rewarding yourself for achieving goals, motivates you to work harder to achieve more in future. The rewards can be as trivial as ticking an achieved activity, to a chocolate bar or a holiday in Hawaii. The choice is yours.


Avoid distractions: This includes staying away from social media, and friends, who do not share your vision.


Endeavor to learn: Passion and drive to learnfrom those who had the same issues and were able to resolve them.


When all is said and done, procrastination can be a symptom of an underlying technical or moral failure. It is important to check and recheck, why you need to push the work forward.


“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”- Philip Stanhope


We all must have come across several articles regarding -procrastination and how to surmount it. Sometimes, we follow it, and sometimes, we lose track after a certain time. It’s all about being self-controlled and vigorous willed related to manage this crucial aspect of our life, in an efficient way. The best way to do it is just starting the incipient regime with immediate effect. Once we are prosperous in surmounting procrastination, enough time will be at always our disposal. This will help us emerge as victors in every phase of our life.



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