Keywords: Procrastination, academic procrastination, coping strategy, self help, Nigeria.
Is Procrastination a Lazy Behaviour – Nigerian? What is procrastination all about? Reasons for procrastination. How common is procrastination in Nigeria? What are the long term effects of procrastination? How can one overcome procrastination?
Procrastination is a global problem among humans, especially when they are confronted with difficult tasks. But the major concern is about those who chronically engage in procrastination. And in Nigeria, many people, especially students get involved with chronic procrastination as a way of escape from stressful situations. So is procrastination a lazy behaviour in Nigerian?
No matter the reasons for engaging in procrastination, it is voluntary, irrational and harmful. It has psychosocial and physical consequences. And though the issue of procrastination is complex, it can be overcome by self help or professional help.
What is procrastination all about?
In simple terms, procrastination is the act of postponing taking action in an activity to the last minute, or infinity. It actually involves avoiding taking action on a necessary matter for no good reason or deferring action until later.
Actually procrastination is a behaviour that is common in our everyday lives. And although everyone has at one time or the other has engaged in procrastination, there are chronic or habitual procrastinators. They are also known as trait procrastinators.
Types of procrastinations:
There are different types of procrastination. But four types stand out, i.e. academic, decision making, behavioural-avoidant and dysfunctional procrastinations.
In academic procrastination students who engage in it postpone their academic activities including assignments for irrational reasons. These students will postpone academic activities until the last minute when they have to rush over their works.
Decision making procrastination is also known as decisional procrastination. The persons engaged in this take longer time to make decisions and complete tasks. This is because they do not want to fail or be criticized, so they make a lot of consultations.
For those engaged in behavioural-avoidant procrastination, they delay starting a task or completing it. They lay the blames for their delay in carrying out tasks on issues like lack of time.
And the dysfunctional procrastination is a combination of decisional and behavioural-avoidant procrastination. They will make many consultations and then blame the delay on lack of time.
Reasons for procrastination.
Is Procrastination a Lazy Behaviour – Nigerian? Actually, those who procrastinate are not lazy. People engage in procrastinations for so many reasons.
Preference for work pressure:
Some people actually prefer to work under pressure or stress. They claim that it brings out the best in them and the best result from them.
Studies have shown that procrastination can be due to the types of interactions people had with their parents in childhood. Procrastination occurs more in people whose parents used the authoritarian parenting method. This is a hash type of parenting.
Some people delay taking actions on activities out of rebellion. For those whose parents were authoritarians, the children put off tasks as a form of rebellion. Unfortunately, postponement of activities becomes habitual for them even in adulthood.
For other people who procrastinate, it could also be done out of rebellion against the person who gave the task.
Poor time management:
Procrastination can be due to poor time management. Such people are unable to prioritize their tasks, especially when overloaded with tasks.
Some people may even underestimate the time needed to complete the task, especially when the time for completion is long.
Procrastination also occur more in persons who are impulsive in nature and unable to persevere in tasks. So such people have weak impulse control and easily distracted.
Complex and unpleasant tasks:
If the assignment of job presented is complex, there is a tendency for people to postpone starting or completing it. Even those with low self efficacy, may see normal work as difficult. Also if the work is boring and unpleasant, there is more likelihood that procrastination will occur. Students procrastinate on tasks they do not like.
Age and gender:
Procrastination occurs more in young people. This is because older people have better problem solving skills. And procrastination occurs more in men than women.
Those who spend a lot of time on the internet are more likely to procrastinate. The internet acts as a distraction to work.
People may procrastinate or delay taking decisions on issues that affect their emotions. Even those who suffer from depression are more likely to procrastinate.
Having anxiety issue can predispose to procrastination. This is because those who are anxious avoid high demanding tasks out of fear of failure.
Actually those who procrastinate engage in self critical rumination which can affect their mood. So procrastination is a coping mechanism.
How common is procrastination in Nigeria?
A research in southwest Nigeria among undergraduate students showed that many Nigerian students procrastinate. And even post primary students in Nigeria engage in procrastination.
It is documented that many Nigerian students prefer to take part in pleasurable things first and leave studying to later. For example, many students fail their exams because they postpone studying and spend more time on social media.
In one Nigerian university research work, it documented that 81% of their participants had a high level of procrastination. And the rest of the participants had either moderate or low levels of procrastination.
Among undergraduate students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, 33.4%had high levels of procrastination. The other students, 42.7% had moderate levels of procrastination, while 23.83% low levels. And the cause of this was traced to social media addiction.
What are the long term effects of procrastination?
The effects of habitual procrastination transverses all spheres of life. It affects physical, psychological, social and academic aspects of life.
Those who procrastinate are more likely to delay seeking treatment for their physical health matters. And this can predispose them to poorer health and even death from the physical illness. They are prone to frequent illnesses like colds, stomach problems, etc.
Also they are prone to frequent household safety issues. For example, they may keep putting off getting electrical appliance repaired until someone gets hurt by it.
Procrastination can predispose one to stress and thus to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, etc. They can also have sleeping problems as well as eating disorders. And they may have issues controlling their emotions.
Those who habitually procrastinate are less satisfied with life because they are unable to regulate their behaviours. And they live their life regretting, feeling guilt, self disgust with low self esteem. They are unable to achieve personal objectives because they feel shame and have reduced wellbeing.
Those who procrastinate function poorly socially and even at work. They can easily get into trouble with their superiors, parents, boss, friends, etc. Even their family and professional lives are negatively affected. And these can lead to intimate partner violence, divorce, loss of job and unemployment.
They have difficulties even achieving their personal objectives or goals.
The procrastinators avoid people. And this can lead to isolation and loneliness.
Procrastination can predispose to poor academic performance stemming from poor reading culture. Also the feeling of guilt can impair learning and academic performance. Many end up with poor grades, while others drop out of school.
How can one overcome procrastination?
There are self help methods for overcoming procrastination and there are also professional help available.
Self help methods:
Acknowledge the problem:
There is need to first acknowledge that there is a problem of habitual procrastination.
Know the triggers:
Go through the list of causes of procrastination written above and find out which ones belong to you. This will help you understand the root of your problem.
Talk to a friend:
You may need to share your fears with a trusted friend. And there may be need to get information about the job from a friend, colleague, or internet. Talk to yourself and encourage yourself.
A conducive environment:
Ensure that the work environment is conducive for work, by being not too hot or too cold. Also make sure that you are adequately motivated.
Modify the task:
Try to modify the task at hand to an activity you can enjoy. For example, find out what you will gain by doing the task. Or you can identify your own reasons why you will want the task done. This could help make the task interesting.
Set goals and minimize distractions:
Then for the task at hand, set a goal for yourself and focus on it. Then minimize distractions, like reducing your social media usage for the period of work.
It is important that after setting the goals, to give yourself a time frame for the task. Then manage the time well. There may be need to break the job to small bits and attach time frame to each small bit.
Once the job is done, reward yourself in any way you prefer.
Always know that to become changed requires time. So give yourself time to get there and stop procrastination entirely.
Need for professionals.
Help from teachers:
Having answered the question of is procrastination a lazy behaviour in Nigerian, we can see the need for professional help.
Teachers can help. For example, the mathematics teacher can break the mathematics lessons to different ways that can be easily understood.
Others can help:
The schools counselors, parents and other teachers can help instill confidence in children. School counselors can help find out children with mental health issues and refer them. They can also teach children good time management.
Guardians and parents should use good parenting method at home, like authoritative parenting, etc. This will help inculcate confidence in the child.
When the self help and other professionals fail then there is need to meet with the medical professionals.
The clinical psychologist can use psychotherapy like cognitive behavioural therapy to do cognitive restructuring. Here the person will be taught how to challenge his/her fears, and stop negative thoughts. They will also be taught time management.
And the psychiatrist can come in if there are mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, etc. The psychiatrist will make use of medicines for the treatment.
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