Students look at their screens, unable to start on their homework. (Photo illustration by Kiet Phan)
Fountain Valley High School

Opinion: The psychology behind teen procrastination and how to prevent it

Procrastination is a given side-effect of being faced with work at any point in your life. It’s the common behavior that leads teenagers into putting off homework, studying or any other responsibilities for as long as possible.

Little bouts of procrastination here and there are perfectly normal and acceptable, but when it reaches the point of being a genuine distraction, it can become costly. At this point of the year when testing and finals start to loom over us, it may be suggested that we find possible solutions to this.

Unsurprisingly, procrastination likely stems from a need to avoid the obligation of work. Simple and easy demands can easily undergo the delaying mindset of “I’ll do it later!”

Teens typically use little distractions to put off their work to the point of denial, and once time actually reaches to get the project done they rush to get everything accomplished in time. This constant cycle of delay and denial is one of the more common mindsets that teenagers put themselves under when it comes to procrastination.

Ultimately, the deadline is major factor in how much people procrastinate. A far away deadline, as well as the need to avoid work, can lead to a natural reaction of putting off the assignment. As the deadline looms closer, however, the sudden threat of a due date is what sets off the stress to motivate yourself to finish. It’s the deadline that gets people to get the urgent sense of motivation, but when procrastination gets too far, it’s easy for the work to end up in poor quality.

The looming threat of finals, exams, and testing is coming closer, and it may be in everyone’s best interest to figure out possible solutions to prevent too much procrastination from taking place

Writing down your tasks in a checklist

It’s one of the easiest methods of getting your work done. Making a checklist doesn’t have to be a daily thing for those forgetful people, but on important projects and exams, it could definitely be of use. Checklists remain an easy and organized method of making sure you have all your tasks are written down, and it becomes so much more fulfilling when you finish a task and get to check it off.

Choose positive thinking

Instead of putting your head under the mindset to finish something just because you have to, it’s a better solution to replace your thoughts with a more positive substitute. In place of telling yourself you need to finish something, ask yourself when you can get it done. Procrastinators tend to lie to themselves, promising themselves that they’ll finish something when they’ll likely put it off to the last minute. Being honest with your behavior towards tasks can be an easy first step to getting work done.

Figure out reasons for your delay

Whether distractions lie in social media, video-games, or even just stress, it’s easy to take these as excuses for your procrastination. Put your phone in another room, or choose to take your books in a more secluded area to get genuine work done.

Music, prizes, etc; anything as motivation

Set up a playlist on any music app, and you can use it as a constant pick-me-up to keep you constant with finishing your work. For those who easily get lost in their music, you can promise yourself a little break time for every interval of tasks you accomplish. If not music, you can also use prizes like sweets or savory snacks when you finish a certain section

A method I like to use is to use a timer on my phone and try to finish a specific assignment in that time frame. The timer sets off the right kind of artificial deadline to instill the stress and motivation I need to finish my work, and if there isn’t a big test the next day, I get my homework finished right before 6 p.m.

Of course, these methods might not work for everyone, since every mind has a different way to cope with different things. But procrastination can’t be good at this time period, especially with upcoming exams like SBACs, AP tests, and finals approaching. We’ve all procrastinated, but gaining a better understanding of it and finding your own method of solving it can enable you to stop the habit. 

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