“Academic procrastination refers to the tendency to put off or delay tasks related to one's studies so that they are either not fully completed by their due dates or have to be rushed to be finished”. (Soloman & Rothblum, 1994).
Let's admit, all of us have procrastinated at some point in our lives especially when it comes to research and thesis writing avoiding procrastination becomes very challenging. Some of us are active procrastinators while others are passive ones.
“Passive procrastinators delay the task because they have trouble making decisions and acting on them whereas active procrastinators delay the task purposefully because working under pressure allows them to feel challenged and motivated". (What Is Procrastination, Kendra Cherry)
Whatever category you may fall in, its outcome is the same i.e. more stress, anxiety, and even depression. Sometimes we procrastinate just to have momentary relief by running away from our responsibilities but ironically as time passes by we are only getting tenser.
PhD scholars usually procrastinate by engaging themselves in other daily routine tasks. This way they seem to be busy but in reality, they aren’t progressing their thesis productively. The deadlines approach silently and so does more pressure. When they finally sit down to get their thesis done in the minimum time it usually results in burn-outs or total blunders.
Below are some factors that lead students to procrastinate and how to eradicate them:
1. Lack of Motivation:
Most often at the beginning scholars are overflowing with confidence and motivation to complete their doctorate. But as time passes by, and they are faced with more and more challenging situations daily they lose their motivation in studies. Ultimately, they start putting off tasks to do them later which seriously affects the quality of their research.
According to research conducted at Ohio State University uplifting your motivation and learning how to do it by undertaking a course on motivation, the building is a very important part of academic success.
Bruce W. Tuckman & Gary Kennedy (2009) suggested that doing so appears to significantly improve their chances of earning and maintaining high grades and increasing their probability of retention. Postponing taking or not taking such a course puts new freshmen at risk in terms of both academic performance and subsequent retention (p.17).
2. Add Friction To Temptations:
Working amidst distractions such as phones, or TV near your reach may easily tempt you to check them out for only a while. But, when the phone or remote control comes in your hand, you lose the trail of the time unknowingly, and when you finally realize it's already late.
The most effective way to avoid this is to keep yourself away from such temptations while working on your thesis. You can block Wi-Fi on your computer so that you don’t randomly keep checking the news or social media. Moreover, work in a room allocated only for your thesis writing. In this way, you will be more focused while away from your phone and the internet which are major sources of distractions.
3. Value Your Time Properly:
Knowing the value of your time is the key to avoid procrastination. Every second you lose while procrastinating during your Ph.D. degree may lead you to an extension. Sometimes we falsely estimate the amount of time required to complete our work and waste the rest of it using social media or playing games etc.
Consequently, when a particular task couldn’t be completed in the allocated amount of time we panic. So, to save yourself from any regrets it is crucial to envision a better future for yourself and stop wasting time procrastinating instead of achieving your goals.
“When the future self seems similar to the present self when it is imbued with realism and vividness, and when it is seen in positive terms, people are more willing to make sacrifices today that may benefit them at some point in the years to come”. (Future self‐continuity: how conceptions of the future self transform intertemporal choice, Hal E. Hershfield, 2011)
4. Personal Development & Changing Lifestyle:
Developing your habits of working can greatly help you fight procrastination as they require less energy. When your mind and body are used to long working hours they can focus easily and avoid distractions and laziness.
You need to be more self-disciplined in order to manage time properly. It isn’t recommended to change your habits abruptly but to amend them slowly and gradually. This way you won’t fall back to your previous lifestyle and continue working productively.
Dr. Ferrari says in one of his interviews that we don’t view procrastination as a serious problem but as a common tendency to be lazy or dawdling. But we have shown in our research it is much, much more. For those chronic procrastinators, it is not a time management issue – it is a maladaptive lifestyle. (Five questions for Joseph Ferrari, PhD, by American Psychological Association, 2010)
5. Self-Compassion - An Important Factor to Eradicate Procrastination:
In a journal named “Elsevier”, there is a study on procrastination by the topic: “I forgive myself, now I can study: How self-forgiveness for procrastinating can reduce future procrastination”.
The authors of this study discuss the positive impact of self-forgiveness to avoid further procrastination. They carry out experiments to study the behavior of people who show self-compassion and forgive themselves for procrastinating with those people who constantly feel guilty about it and keep on continuing the cycle of procrastination.
They conclude their study by saying that“Self-forgiveness for procrastinating appears to be constructive in the short-term by allowing the individual to overcome the negative affect associated with an earlier task and engage in approach-oriented behaviors on a subsequent similar task. Learning to forgive the self for procrastinating will likely be beneficial by reducing procrastination, but also more generally by promoting feelings of self-worth and more positive mental health” (Michael J.A. Wohl, Timothy A. Pychyl, and Shannon H. Bennett, 2010, p 807).
To learn more about tackling procrastination you can further check out part-I of this article by clicking here: How To Cope-Up With Your Thesis Despite Procrastination (Part-I)