Why Procrastinate?
Why Procrastinate?
  • Chae Ji-song (CHEM 15)
  • 승인 2019.04.24 13:14
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Have you ever put off what you should do? Perhaps, all readers who are reading this article have this experience. Because you may be putting aside works and reading this. Are you busy making excuses or feeling guilty about procrastination? Let me tell you a story about procrastination.

When did people start to systematically manage their time? The first public clocks were introduced in the 14th century of the Italian Peninsula. This led to the first use of clocks as a means of supervising employees’ working hours. In 1418, a marble quarry located near Lake Maggiore first had a watch. The clock began to determine our value because people started to have a new attitude toward time, which led to the need to use it wisely. 

Ever since the world of self-improvement came, we became frustrated and worried about being inferior when we cannot get things done. We are living in the world full of temptations. The lure of the virtual world such as Twitter, Instagram, online games, online shopping, etc. that keeps us from working has even coined the term “cyberloafing”. However, it is historically and philosophically inappropriate to take procrastination as the only feature of modern society. People have put off work for hundreds of years. 

Procrastination was first studied by Joe Ferrari in the 1980s. He spent more than 20 years on the study of procrastination, made it a respectable study field, and saw it mature enough to be taken as subdiscipline. One must look inside the person, not the environment to understand procrastination better. Then you find that procrastination is ultimately based on feelings and emotions that are not properly managed. The reason why people put off work is that they think they should be in the “right mood” to do something. And they become sure that the future may be a better time to take actions because your mood might have changed. 

Ferrari also analyzed how procrastination is used to deal with anxiety or to protect oneself from fearful consequences. Ironically, people put off work to defend themselves. In a study by Ferrari and Diane Ties, college students tended to delay preparation further when they were told they would take a meaningful test to evaluate their abilities, rather than the test taken for fun. The more important the test is, the more people tend to delay. Paradoxically, the more important the results are, they should defend desperately.

If procrastination is an act that takes place not by mere avoidance but by complex psychological factors, then doing nothing is actually not doing anything. It is the start of a process which will have a valuable outcome in the future. Saint-Pol-Roux, a symbolist poet, hung this phrase on the bedroom door every night. “Don’t disturb. Thinking of the poetry.” We sympathize with the fact that outstanding performance comes not only from ceaseless efforts, activities and movements, but also from rest and leisure. 

We sometimes get so passionate when we wake up in the morning that everything seems possible, but by late afternoon we put down the day in desperation and start putting everything off. We sometimes write to-do-list or rationally postpone important tasks that need to be done right away while cleaning and organizing the surroundings. I hope you will not blame yourself for procrastination by the self-improvement dogma created by capitalism. We are humans, not machines. We cannot live a perfect life and it is hard to live without regret. I hope procrastination will enrich your life, and be a part of important things. I also sincerely hope that this short column will be a consolation and hope for those who procrastinate.