More on procrastination

As we learned in class, blogger Tim Urban has a very unique way of explaining procrastination. On his very popular and fun TedTalk, Urban describes the procrastination system and the struggles of the rational decision-maker inside all of us (video below).

Urban considers himself “a lifelong procrastinator who thinks about this topic all the time”. But he doesn’t lecture from the perspective of a psychologist. He talks from the point of view of an everyday procrastinator.

One of the most insightful aspects of this presentation is the distinction between deadline-driven and non-deadline driven procrastination. While deadline-driven procrastination has “a system” that works “most of the time”, the non-deadline driven type of procrastination is the one that brings people more negative feelings and life-long frustrations.

Ask yourself, as a college student, what non-deadline-driven things are you procrastinating on: finding a new part-time job; selecting a major, searching and applying for an internship, joining a student organization?

Learning how to be productive and managing time effectively helps defeat procrastination. But, as we learned, more than a “time management” problem procrastination is impacted by the way we manage our emotions.

After watching the video, you can take a look at Tim’s advice on How to Beat Procrastination. You can also read my article How to manage time like a machine.

A positive side to procrastination?

While we all understand the negative impact procrastination has in people’s lives, we also know that procrastination is a common human behavior. And yes, when we don’t learn how to manage it, it could have terrible consequences. But under certain limited circumstances it could also help with creativity.

In order to help you connect course content with other ideas outside of our classroom, I invite you to watch the TedTalk The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers. On this talk, organizational psychologist Adam Grant explains the unexpected habits of people whom he calls “originals“. As you watch the video, think about how class concepts such as self-efficacy, goal-setting and procrastination relate to the characteristics of “originals“.

According to Grant, “Originals are nonconformists, people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion them. They are people who stand out and speak up. Originals drive creativity and change in the world.” And they have thee habits that help them succeed:

  1. They are not always the first ones to come up with great ideas. They build on good ideas and try to make them better. They also have an opportunity to learn from other peoples’ mistakes and avoid making similar ones.
  2. Originals have doubts and fears. They have doubts about their ideas, but not about their ability to succeed (self-efficacy). They understand that the first idea is always a draft, and they work effortlessly until a better idea is developed. Like any of us, originals are afraid of failing, but their biggest fear is failing to try. They understand that our inactions are a bigger threat than our actions.
  3. Originals also have lots of ideas, good ones and bad ones. Your chances of developing good ideas (or strategies) will increase if you come up with multiple ideas and try to do things in different ways , instead of doing the same thing over and over.

As we discussed in class, self-efficacy becomes a crucial element in your road to success. It’s normal to have doubts and fears, but you must believe that you are capable of achieving great things. That believe, coupled with your best effort and effective goal-setting strategies make a great formula for success.