Bob Lynam has been heard to say, “If you are thinking about procrastinating – DON’T.” Despite the wisdom of this advice, a recent survey given out to eighth graders in the middle school shows that almost all students procrastinate, whether once in a while or every night. Fifty-five percent of students taking the survey said they procrastinate ‘occasionally’, while almost a third said they procrastinate ‘frequently’. Many students feel that they can get away with lots of procrastination and that it does not affect their grades when, in truth, it almost certainly does, and putting homework off until late at night also means you’re probably not getting enough sleep.
Although many students procrastinate, almost all wish that they didn’t. One student that is an admitted procrastinator said, “Though you can get away with procrastination, it isn’t a good habit to get into. Just do your work and you won’t have to stress over it later.” There is a constant feeling among middle school students that too much homework is given, and this may be true some of the time, but when long-term projects are procrastinated on, the end result is an overwhelmed, and extremely stressed student.
Procrastinating also has a ‘snowball’ effect. When one thing is put off until tomorrow, it means that what was put off has to be done in the place of other things, and those things are done later in the place of other things. Eventually you are in a constant cycle of procrastination that is hard to escape. Of course, students have other important things to do in their lives, what with sports and music lessons and friends. These things shouldn’t be put off for school work, but it is extremely important to budget your time so that you don’t end up frantic and trying to come up with excuses.
In the survey given out, 78 percent of students taking the survey said that they did most of their weekend homework on Sunday. Only 2 percent said they did their weekend homework on Friday. While some of the 78 percent who do their homework on Sunday may just be very busy every Friday and Saturday, many will look at homework on Friday night and feel like they have forever to do the work. Much more quickly than they think, however, Sunday night sneaks up, and they are cramming homework in at 10 o’ clock. 68 percent of eighth graders said that this sudden realization of the deadline approaching is what makes them get over their procrastinating and do the work before it’s too late. 20 percent also said that what helps them stop procrastinating is other students reporting that they have done the work. This could be viewed as a kind of peer pressure, but it helps students get their work done.
One student who took the survey said, “Love it or hate it, [procrastination] is the only way to still have a social life with the workload we get.” There are two arguments in this. The workload that students get does often seem overwhelming and intimidating projects can actually encourage procrastination. Also, social life and friends are essential parts of every middle school student’s life, and although schoolwork shouldn’t be put off for hanging out with friends, it’s very important as well and shouldn’t be counted out as one of the many commitments that middle school student have.
With so many demands on students, procrastination is almost inevitable. As one eighth grader said, “I am [procrastinating] right now, taking this survey instead of doing homework! Yeah, it’s a problem for me.”
By Magda Andrews-Hoke
Cartoon by Elizabeth Wallace