Patterns Of Procrastination Among Students


We just launched a beta version of www.BuddyHive.com. It is a cool web site that allows people to buddy up with each other and be accountable in getting stuff done. It’s perfect for those struggling with procrastination. And fun because you never know who you’ll meet. (Give it a try!)

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We’re testing different ways to promote the site. So, in seeking out those who were experiencing time management challenges, I went to Twitter on a recent Sunday night and searched using a procrastination hash tag. A hash tag is added to a tweet to indicate a subject. I was able to find all the tweets where people had specifically included the word “procrastination.”

To my surprise, the floodgates opened! Hundreds of students in a few hours, confessed to not doing their studying, or not making any progress on school projects. Some couldn’t even start packing for upcoming trips. I was surprised at how Twitter has become an on-line confessional.

Procrastination seems to be a particular challenge for students. My web designer, who is close to that age, suggested that students often face a massive block that is extremely difficult for them to overcome. Some do, and perhaps they are the ones who graduate from college successfully.

By watching the tweets throughout the week, one can see patterns of activity.

In the middle of the week, tweeters are reasonably nonchalant,

“Since 2pm, I’ve stared at blank manuscript, ate a mars ice cream, watched TBBT, & learned how to whistle and hum together.”

Or:  “Still haven’t started my homework, well I guess it’s time for a shower.”

Then by Friday night, with the entire weekend stretching ahead of them, students are optimistic that they can eventually get to their school work.

“I always wait for Sunday to do my homework, procrastination at its best.”

And on Saturday night, there is still time: “Should I do my homework tonight? Pshh hah no thanks.”

But then on early Sunday evening, with only a few hours until an assignment is due, they express worry that they might not get it all done.

“I wait until the last minute to do EVERYTHING. “

“Damn… definitely just starting my history children’s book! Due tomorrow…. and have had 2 weeks to do it!”

“History paper due in 12 hours and I haven’t started yet.”

Then, late Sunday night, many are prone to resignation, doubt, and self-loathing. They realize that time is just about up, and they are in a precarious situation with little to show for all their distractions.

“Should have started this psychology before the day it was due!”

“Can’t focus on this homework.”

“I’ve got to stop doing this to myself.”

Few celebrate their successes. The majority use Twitter as a confessional. And almost none reach out for help. They will often confess to what’s distracting them; “My senior paper may as well be on twitter and Facebook, because it seems like that’s all I’m doing. “

Most tweets seem to be written by high school students, because  “homework” is a popular topic. One would not expect to hear this quite as much among college or university students. Among that group, essays and papers need to get done, not homework.

Another curious item, noted around March break, is the difficulty people have with getting ready for travel, particularly packing:

“Leaving in 6 hours, haven’t begun to pack yet.”

“It’s seriously not setting in that I’m moving in 11 days. I need to start packing. “

Clearly putting things off is a huge challenge for this group. As one of them put it, “I’m a big fan of procrastination, or as I like to call it, postponed time management.”

They need to set goals, they need discipline, and they need accountability. That’s why we built www.BuddyHive.com.  They need it.

 


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