The High Price of Procrastination—and How to Avoid It

October 1, 2015 /

Photo via Flickr

By Daniela Ceja


I am a procrastinator. I can say for sure that I have faced the consequences of my lethargy.  

I’m starting college this fall and my school sent me an application for a scholarship at the beginning of the summer. I had a whole month until the deadline, but of course as a procrastinator, I left it for the last minute. I wasn’t able to finish the application properly and I lost my chance at some much-needed money for school.

That could have been made a real difference for me and I blew it off!  I can’t overstate how much I regret it.  It hurts knowing that I had the ability to do what I needed to do, but I couldn’t convince myself to do it. I’ve done this more times than I can count. It’s almost like being addicted to drugs: I know the consequences, but I fall into the same habit over and over again.

A procrastinator is someone who puts off work they know needs to be done in a certain time frame.  There is, however, a difference between procrastinating and being a chronic procrastinator.  As Dr. Joseph Ferrari, PhD, of the American Psychological Association puts it, “Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator.” About one in five American adults struggles with chronic procrastination, which is linked to ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder and passive-aggressive tendencies.

People my age definitely have a reputation for leaving things until the last moment, but it can be dangerous lifestyle that can affect our future. The downward spiral of procrastination in my peers is further fueled by increasing social media and phone usage—people my age send and receive an average of 30 distracting texts per day.  Take it from my peers Jonathan Reyes, 15 and Donovan Tesone, 16.

“Procrastination has affected me…to the point where I failed three classes my freshman year,” says Reyes. He blames technology and social media for the bad habit. “I leave things until the end because I am so into my phone.  I text my friends and check my social media.  Sometimes I think I care more about [my phone] than the things that are actually important in my life.”

With almost three out of four teens carrying around a smartphone in their pocket, and over 70 percent of young people on more than one social media platform, it’s not hard to see why our schoolwork is suffering.

And for teens like Tesone, procrastination doesn’t just affect schoolwork; it can touch every aspect of life.

“I’ve always waited until the last moment to do things or just end up not doing them at all,” Tesone says. “At home I procrastinate on chores. At school I fall behind on assignments and when I notice that I won’t be able to catch up on time I just quit trying.”  

Teone says his wake up call has been starting senior year, because he “has lot of weight on [him] this school year” and procrastination just isn’t worth it anymore.

I know as well as my friends do that this habit can have huge pitfalls, from my lost scholarship money to plummeting grades to less trust from parents and teachers.


Don’t fall into the cycle of procrastination. Follow these tips to start the school year off right:

  1. When something is assigned to you do it right away, without worrying about how long it will take.  The time you spend worrying is time you could be working on it.  Stop making excuses and just get started!
  2. Get off social media and other distracting websites. Do this by blocking them in your browser or even deactivating your accounts temporarily.
  3. Put your phone out of reach or in a different room so you’re not tempted to text friends or check social media.
  4. Take pride in your workspace by picking a well-lit, clutter-free, quiet place to study with as few distractions as possible. If this isn’t possible at home, try the library.
  5. When you have many assignments to manage, write them down on a calendar or planner with due dates. Break long-term projects down into smaller pieces with your own deadlines to avoid work piling up at the end.
  6. Give yourself small rewards for accomplishing a certain amount of work, such as writing 500 words or working for 30 minutes without getting distracted. Break a big task into bite-size pieces to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
  7. Be confident in yourself. Your assignments will not always be perfect, but procrastination ensures that you won’t be able to put in your best effort.


Think you maybe addicted to your smartphone? Read more here.

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