Explaining procrastination


Jaden Cheloha, Staff Writer

There are always two versions of yourself. There’s your present self, which is yourself in the moment, and your future self, which is just your present self after some time has passed. Procrastination centers around which version of yourself you decide to treat better. For those who want their future self to be as comfortable as possible, get things done right away. It doesn’t matter if it’s some big project you’ve only just started planning, those who want their future self to be as comfortable as possible will make sure of that by working ahead and getting what they want to get done in the moment. 

In opposition, there is the person that wants their present self to be as comfortable as possible. They choose to treat themselves in the moment, leaving any hard work to their future self. These are the procrastinators of the world. It seems like a pretty balanced group, but as things like social media and streaming services lower peoples’ attention span, our desire for instant gratification steadily grows. Instant gratification is always the path of the procrastinator because with the help of apps like Instagram and TikTok, they need to put in little to no effort to indulge themselves. 

Only, this type of person isn’t aware of their amazing ability to cause immense amounts of self-sabotage. Since they only care about making sure their present self is as comfortable as possible (binging TikToks or watching a new TV show and whatnot) they slowly forget about their future self, and how the work they need to complete will continue to pile on. 

Now, if the work you need to complete has a deadline, your present and your future self combine in a sense once a certain threshold has been crossed. Your future self has an expiration date, and they expire at the deadline of every assignment. Now, once the due date for a project is just over the horizon, the fear your future self has felt that this assignment won’t be completed moves its way into your present self, and this is the little grey area where most procrastinators are the best at getting their work done. 

People that care more about their present self are now forced to care about both versions, as their future self is sitting on their death bed. To make sure their future self dies a peaceful death, they must complete whatever assignment, no matter how big, before the due date. This can take place at any time for procrastinators. For an assignment that’s due the next day, this feeling could appear in lunch the day its due. For longer projects, like a newspaper article, that feeling should appear at least three days before the articles need to be submitted. It greatly varies, but the concept remains the same between everyone and everything. 

Now, this is only one version of your future self. This is your future self if you have been given a deadline. You see this version at school all the time, but there are other examples everywhere you look. Adults have to deal with deadlines and due dates at work, make sure their house or car payment is up to date, and make sure they pay their taxes before Tax DayEven now, I’m rushing to finish this article for a Friday due date.  

Behind the scenes, however, there is a sneaky second version of your future self that you are probably aware of, but never took time to think about. This is a version of yourself that needs to get something done, but haven’t set up or been provided with a deadline. This version of yourself has things to do, but haven’t decided when they want it done. Maybe you want to paint your room, or reorganize your garage. No one is depending on you to complete these tasks, so you’re running on your own schedule. For some people, the create a schedule, find time in their day, and get these things done. But for procrastinators, they truly have an eternity to keep putting giving the hard work to their future self and let them indulge in instant gratification for as long as they please. 

But why? For the people who live in the moment a little too much, why? What causes them to procrastinate in the way they do, and then immediately turn it around once time becomes a factor? In the simplest terms, instant gratification. Social media apps like TikTok have already been brought up as examples of things in modern-day life that have provided many students and adults with something that they could get if they completed their work, but can be achieved in a fraction of the time. 

This is how a lot of people get sucked into endless loops of scrolling. Why sit down and do something productive when you can discover every behind-the-scenes video of Coraline? I go through this every day. I should have spent the past month and a half writing this story, but why would I when my Nintendo Switch is right there and Animal Crossing is already open? 

The easiest way to change this behavior is to set goals. I’ve been trying my best to set a rough list of everything I need to get done for school, and generally keep myself organized. For example, I’ll write down that I need finish a math assignment before my biology homework because the math is due sooner. Visualizing what needs to get done and when works wonders when it comes to bettering your procrastination habits.