Students learn tools to combat procrastination

If you consider yourself a procrastinator, don’t worry – you are not alone and it doesn’t mean you are lazy.

That’s the message an audience of eight students received earlier this month when they attended the “Stop Procrastinating” workshop with South Puget Sound Community College counselor Sally Sharbaugh.

Sharbaugh designed her presentation around the book “How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age” by Linda Sapadin. The book proposes a unique way to both understand and combat procrastination, said Sharbaugh.

Last year, when holding a similar workshop, Sharbaugh felt unsatisfied by the negative outlook students had upon leaving. This year, she revised her presentation to present procrastination in a more positive light.

The first discussion Sharbaugh prompted was to talk about reasons people procrastinate. One idea, explained by student Forrest Huff, was to procrastinate on projects without pressing due dates.

Sharbaugh explained that procrastination is not about being lazy, but rather the result of an internal conflict between different needs. She illustrated the point by describing the needs fulfilling by finishing a research paper versus the need fulfilled by watching television.

Even Sharbaugh admitted to having procrastinated while making the powerpoint she used during the presentation.

“I had issues focusing on clarifying the deep concepts. I spent too much time worrying about the details of the graphics,” she said.

Sapadin’s book explains some people are prone to be procrastinators, based on their personality. The six kinds of procrastinators are the Perfectionist, the Dreamer, the Worrier, the Defier, the Crisis-Maker and the Pleaser. Sharbaugh’s advice to the students involved specific strategies to avoid procrastination based on each category.

Student Elizabeth Grimm-Morales said she often fell victim to “Family-Wife Syndrome,” focusing on the needs of others rather than her own work. Sharbaugh used this insight to help Grimm-Morales define herself as a Pleaser.

Sharbaugh had attendees complete a Procrastination Styles Inventory, used to determine which of the different types they identified with. The worksheet consisted of various characteristics, divided in groups by style of procrastination, that could either be selected as true or left blank.

Sharbaugh tried to emphasize that none of the styles were negative, despite slightly misleading titles. The title of Defier was most inaccurate, in Sharbaugh’s opinion. The distinguishing traits of a Defier is not to actively work against others, but to instead desire more autonomy in all tasks, she said.

Student Jordan Williams attended the workshop for two different reasons. He needed extra credit for a class, and wanted to learn ways to deal with procrastination.

“I already knew about my problem with procrastination. This workshop revealed a lot about myself that I hadn’t considered,” Williams said.

The problem of procrastination has always been an issue, for students especially, said Sharbaugh. In this new age of technology, ignoring the urges that lead to procrastination has only become harder.

“Before it was easier to disengage from social life,” said Sharbaugh while explaining the threat social media has on the human need to disconnect once in awhile. Though agreeing that the internet can be useful in that way, Sharbaugh insists that it also adds many more methods for students to procrastinate.