Are you a procrastinator? Or do you live with one? Over many years of observing children, teachers and parents, I’ve drawn some conclusions about procrastination…and my thoughts may surprise you!

It’s my observation that people (kids and adults) seem to fall into one of two categories when given a task or assignment.  Some people will start the task almost right away, no matter the due date, and often divide the work into several chunks of time, completing the project with plenty of time to spare.  Others will put off starting the assignment until the VERY LAST MINUTE, even at the expense of other obligations, finishing in the nick of time.

Let’s explore this a bit further…

Non-procrastinator—These people are aware of the time it will likely take to complete what they’ve been asked to do.  They are able to organize the tasks involved, figure out where to start and actually get started!  They may be aware that they need time to think things over, processing or “percolating” on their ideas before moving on to the next step of the assignment.  Non-procrastinators are often praised for their exemplary study habits!

Procrastinators—These people wait until the last minute, often with feelings of guilt or shame.  Sometimes, they cannot get started because they feel the task is boring.  They may also have difficulty organizing the steps needed to complete the project or understanding the time it will take to complete each step.  However, in my observation, most people who procrastinate (kids and adults alike) NEED TO FEEL PRESSURE for their brains to activate.  Many of the other issues may also be present, but their brains cannot start until they feel the pressure of a deadline.

I’ve seen non-procrastinators work for days on a project and it turns out mediocre.  I’ve seen procrastinators spend half the time on the same project and ace it!  It’s important to identify the reasons why you might be procrastinating and address these.  But often it comes down to needing the pressure of a deadline.

(Side note – this does not apply to studying for a test!  Studying, and memorizing information involves the memory parts of the brain and that is different from completing a project, paper or assignment that requires you to CREATE something new.)

So, what to do?  Take a closer look at your behaviors (or those of your child).  Are you procrastinating because the assignment is boring? Or because other activities are more interesting?  Are you having trouble figuring out how long things take to complete? Or where to start?   Are you unfocused while working on a project?  Do you do well under pressure?  All of the above?

If you know that you need pressure in order to perform, EMBRACE this!  Use this knowledge to your advantage and stop shaming yourself (or your kids)!  Of course you should address any other issues that may cause you to procrastinate.  And obviously you want to create strategies and structures that allow you to do your best work.  But if you know that your best work usually comes at the last minute and that 95% of the time procrastination works out in your favor, stop feeling the shame and guilt and let yourself wait for that deadline.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t written a blog post in awhile.  If you thought that was because of the busy holiday, you’d be somewhat correct.  However, the bigger reason is procrastination.  Bet you can guess which side I’m on!

Do you agree with my observations?  Disagree?  Please leave comments below!