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The Art of Procrastination

Updated: Apr 19, 2019

Distracting oneself, putting off something and avoiding a task are all elements of procrastination. It becomes habitual and part of one’s daily routine. Over the past few years I have perfected the art of procrastination. Whether I’m at home or work, I distract myself by thinking about what to have for lunch, what to have for dinner, whether there is any football on tonight and do I have any chocolate in my cupboard? My mind drifts in and out of some sort of day dream and when people then talk to me I usually jump several feet the in air, swear loudly and try and replace the rather vacant expression on my face. Going to uni gave me the tools to become a master procrastinator. Never before this time did I have the habit of hitting the snooze button numerous times every morning. During my time in the library, which became my second home, when writing essays I would have to turn my laptop into flight mode to stop me from ritualistically checking Facebook, my emails and BBC Sport Football. Furthermore, I would have to put my phone and watch in my bag and cover up the time on my laptop to repress the need to check the time every twenty bloody seconds. Prior to this entry I was unsure as to whether procrastination and dyslexia are linked. Being something that many people can relate to, I thought it would be a fun phenomenon to talk about. After some research I discovered that there appears to be some connections between the two.

Several research articles I found suggested that dyslexics may procrastinate more than non-dyslexics. Reasoning’s for this include that dyslexics may struggle more to concentrate and stay motivated on academic tasks because they predict failure. Ultimately this can led to reduced self-esteem, anxiety, confusion and predictably procrastination. Consequently this can become a vicious cycle, as when these emotions and feelings are triggered avoidance tactics and procrastination allows them to separate and distance themselves from that daunting task.

During my research I found a PDF link to an excellent book outlining and explaining useful study skills for dyslexics. Written by Monica Gribben (2012) a large segment of a chapter was dedicated purely to procrastination. The author notes that a number of different types of procrastinators exist. These include the worrier (who worries continuously over failing), the perfectionist (who is never happy with what they produce), the avoider (who believes that if you ignore the task it will disappear) to the putter-offer (who completes any other tasks except the one they need to do). Vitally the author concludes that in order for dyslexics to help reduce their levels of procrastination it is key to identify which one(s) they may fall into and recognise the reason for their procrastination. Often reasons can involve; taking on too much work/responsibility, struggling to start or finish a task and overcoming the anticipation of failure hurdle. To combat procrastinating, Gribben emphasised the importance of organisation and self-discipline for dyslexics. This can include devising an individualised unique timetable/schedule which breaks tasks into smaller more manageable chunks. Moreover setting realistic targets, whilst also allowing plenty of breaks and relaxation time is key for individuals. Thus, making small changes to ones habits and routine can have a huge beneficial impact on dyslexic’s use of their time.

Interestingly procrastination is mainly thought of in a negative light. I gave some thought to this biased perspective to see if I could establish a contrasting positive of procrastination. Crucially for me, procrastination provides ‘personal thinking’ and extra processing time. Well known in the field of Psychology, humans unconsciously think about tasks or routines when our minds are preoccupied on something else. Still to this day my personal thinking time in mainly dominated by food, Harry Potter trivia or my rather cute and fluffy pet rabbits. Although this appears a negative at first glance, it allows one to think and delve more deeply into a topic without over working ourselves. So often at uni I would wake in the middle of the night or rise from a dosing state with an idea for an essay or theory to research. Moreover many of my work-based thoughts would hit me when I was walking or, rather crudely, on the toilet. I would hastily scribble my ideas down and hope I could make sense of it when I next came to work. Coinciding with Gribben’s notion, I attempt to combat my procrastination by making a list of all the tasks and jobs I need to do every day; no matter how small or menial they seem. This does not stop the procrastination. Instead, it lets me know whether I’m on track for my day’s targets and helps motivate me if I’m behind or ‘slacking’. In this way it is like a self-checking mechanism, which is extremely helpful. Ironically, yet inevitably, I spent a lot of time procrastinating whilst writing this post!

Overall, dyslexia and procrastination do appear to be linked somewhat. The struggles we dyslexics have in completing both academic and tricky day-to-day activities can cause us to lose motivation, self-esteem and put off completing, or even starting, these tasks. But despite all the negatives and disadvantages we mostly associate with procrastination, I do believe that there are positives. Even for those who aren’t dyslexic being aware of your procrastination can help you understand what type of procrastinator you are, why you do it and how you can turn it on its metaphorical head and use it to your advantage.

Useful links

Gribben, M. (2012). The Study Toolkit for Students with Dyslexia, accessed on the 20th March 2019 at, https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KLqICwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=procrastination+and+dyslexia&ots=lZPbCWkBU-&sig=OKJuWqcdJEIy7cER_Z-kwLQTmXc#v=onepage&q=procrastination%20and%20dyslexia&f=false

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