Would you take the one marshmallow now or wait for two later?
Don’t let the marshmallow be a distraction!
Procrastination is all about putting off for later something you don’t want to do in exchange for feeling better now.
In the classic Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, Professor Walter Mischel offered young children a sort of opposite problem: feeling stress now by putting off something you want in order to get more of it later.
He gave children a marshmallow and then told them that if they didn’t eat it now, in fifteen minutes they’d get another one. But if they ate the first one, they wouldn’t get another one at all. (Here for How to give the marshmallow test.)
Seems kinda cruel to me, and if I were a kid in the experiment, I’d have eaten the 1st marshmallow then held the researcher for ransom for five more — and now.
Impulse control v instant gratification
The point is, however, that the ability to withhold the impulse for instant gratification is a powerful life skill. Children in the experiment who were able to hold off for two marshmallows were found, ten and twelve years later, to be “significantly more competent” than other adolescents and scored higher on SAT tests.
Phew! So you got it in. Was it as good as it could have been?
Procrastination isn’t just about getting to things late. It’s also about getting them done fully and properly.
Any harm caused by delay or deferment is procrastination. Just because you turned it in on time doesn’t mean that you couldn’t have done better had you given yourself more time, or had you not given up in the middle and just mailed in the rest.
Complete completion, or just kinda done?
As a teacher I all-too frequently received unfinished or sloppily completed last minute work. But, heh, it was in on time! Sorry, return to sender. Continue reading →
Great interview on CTV Ottawa news! In this interview Dr. P talks about the destructive and limiting effects of procrastination on lifestyle choices. When procrastination controls you, you are not in control of the things you want to do and be. Dr. Pychyl shows viewers the priorities and responsibilities for his own life, as he discusses the truly “existential” damage of procrastination and the limits it puts on the lives of sufferers. Continue reading →
Procrastination destroys grades, it destroys relationships, it destroys futures.
It may not seem like such a big deal. Just make another promise to yourself to get better grades next time, study more, and move on. Besides, cramming it in and busting it out at the last minute always works for me!
Well, yeah, students cheat. Schools look upon it as a horrible violation of civic rules, a sure sign of a life of failure ahead, and they threaten dire consequences for it. Frankly, it’s more like a speeding violation than the theft that it is: cheaters rarely get caught, and usually just for the big things (call it “reckless cheating”).
As with speeding, treating cheating as an offense against mankind won’t stop it. Like all things in schools, the snap of the finger just doesn’t magically transform children into little angels and prodigies. So they cheat. Continue reading →
Scaffolding students out of procrastination: teacher interview with Mike Cahir
Student Success Podcast No. 16
Feb. 10, 2014, recorded Feb 8, 2014
Today’s Guest: Mike Cahir, Teacher and Department Chair, English Department, Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, DC
In this interview, Mike rejoins us to discuss procrastination from the point of view of a high school teacher. I ask him about his take on procrastination, and then I review some of the ideas that we are learning from Dr. Pychyl of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University. Mike processes this new information through delivers his own experiences and offers ideas and advice for both students and teachers. Continue reading →