The science behind procrastination


J. Inscore

Rushing to complete their assignments, senior Genny Hauser (top left), junior Sydney Hartis (top right), and junior Michaela Teachey (bottom) are visibly stressed. With high school yielding such a large workload and an internal brain struggle to finish required assignments, students often procrastinate as a result of the compounding pressures.

Janie Inscore, Sports Editor

  Maybe you have been busy. Maybe it is just an assignment or task you really did not want to do. One way or another, it is the last minute, and suddenly you are overwhelmed by an eleven-page paper due tomorrow morning. Procrastination is something that nearly all students succumb to at some point in their schooling career, but how can it be avoided? 

  The science of procrastination deals heavily with the brain and how it manages a person’s desires, behaviors, and impulses. One major component of avoiding procrastination is the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This structure is in charge of planning and decision making; however, it is underdeveloped compared to other parts, such as the limbic system, which controls the body’s pleasure center and deals with emotions. Like Batman and the Joker, the more powerful limbic system is often in conflict with the prefrontal cortex and typically wins in the fight for control over actions. Because the limbic system is basically the “enemy” of the hard-working and goal-oriented prefrontal cortex, this structure of the brain will try to distract from productivity. For this reason, it often becomes hard for students to focus when all their minds can think about is the things they would rather be doing. 

  There are three types of procrastinators, all of which have a different motive for choosing to put things off until the last minute. One type of procrastinator is the thrill-seeker. This person chooses to procrastinate solely because they enjoy the rush of racing to meet a deadline. Although the reason that humans do this is chemical, the motivation behind waiting until the last second to complete a task is similar to hoping to achieve an adrenaline rush. This rush comes from the pressure to meet a deadline. Another type of procrastinator is the avoider. An avoider will likely decide to do other, less important things first before doing the required assignments which they must complete. Someone who avoids as a means of procrastinating likely does not have a lot of confidence and will put tasks off due to their fear of being judged. Lastly, there is the indecisive procrastinator, or the perfectionist. This person is known to be afraid of failure and not being good enough. This fear is what fuels their procrastination as these people have an irrational hope of being perfect. 

  Although procrastination can be a setback to students and adults alike, some people believe that there are benefits to choosing to procrastinate! Senior Genny Hauser expressed this, stating, “Procrastination shapes you into the person you will become. Without procrastination, society would not be able to make the best decisions. In the time spent procrastinating, you have more time to think about what the best decision could be.” Could Genny be a thrill-seeking procrastinator, or is she a perfectionist? Either way, all society members who procrastinate do so as a result of the chemical balances within their brain. So, readers, how much longer until that assignment is due?