Updated: Jun 14, 2022
"When I look in the mirror
I see a stressed out soul.
He knows he’s supposed to be studying
But he’s not.
Instead, he’s grinding on MapleStory
Outclassing his classmates in terms of speed and efficiency.
But somehow, he can’t maneuver himself around.
I know, great poetry.
Guess who wrote that?
Yours fucking truly at 14 years old when his English teacher asked them to write a short paragraph starting with "When I look in the mirror".
I still remember the exact wording of the “poetry” and the image of that page with my handwriting etched into my brain for years. That’s how cringe it was. (I probably still have that exercise book somewhere.)
Point blank, we have all felt this way at some point of our academic life. We probably shouldn’t be looking at Instagram and TikTok for hours on end. But somehow, we can’t control ourselves. So we tell ourselves, how stressed we are because of our lack of self control. And for the worse of you, you post such crap on reddit for the world to see. (Worst part is people comment and try to empathise.)
Deep down we all know the root of the problem.
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Procrastination is the act of delaying of tasks until the eleventh hour or past their deadline. Some researchers define procrastination as "a form of self-regulation failure characterized by irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences".
I am going to be fair.
All of us procrastinate to some degree. Fortunately for most students, we procrastinate till the eleventh hour at worse and never past the deadline because you know, Singaporean. We get shit done.
The impending doom.
The cause for concern, however, is we only complete our task when the negative consequences is about to condense and starts to become more tangible by the second. (不见棺材不落泪).
Causes for procrastination
Have I ever procrastinated? Sure I have. Many a time.
I still remember my preparation for my O level combined Geography paper. Hand to heart, I hated Geography and detest the fact that it constitutes for half of my combined humanities subject despite my clear brilliance in Social Studies. During the period approaching the Geography paper, I revised every other subject but Geography.
In my mind, I figured, Geography is rather "common sense" and probably wouldn’t much effort to perform reasonably well. I still recall my paper being in the afternoon and me only studying in the morning on my yellow fluffy sofa in the living room at 10:30am. And even then, I wasn’t paying that much attention to what I was studying. It felt as if I was doing it for the sake of it. True enough, my O level Combined Humanities was only a B3 even though I knew A1 was a piece of cake.
We've all been there. The night before school restarts.
More often than not, we procrastinate because we underestimate the time and effort required to perform up to par for the task at hand. We justify our behaviour of pushing back the perceived easier task to the bottom of our to-do-list and engage in other tasks (or distractions) instead. We sweep it under the rug until we have no other choice but to confront the monstrosity that the task has manifested into. That’s when panic sets in.
Why Procrastination is a problem
The general population, students and adults alike, think procrastination can be a good thing. Classic example in Singapore context, a lazy classmate who never seem to care about school. The same said classmate suddenly decides to turn his life around after prelims and experience an exponential increase in his motivation level and his capacity to complete task.
Personally, I don’t. Neither do I encourage that form of work ethic for a myriad of reasons. The biggest reason of all is, you are going for the "high risk, high reward" play.
You rely on fear of consequences for motivation.
You are counting on the bet that you will start feeling the "motivation" to work when the consequences feels real enough.
You are counting on the bet that you will be able to absorb everything effectively in time.
After all, "the best engineers are those who can solve problems within a short time frame". (I can’t remember which CEO’s famous quote this is, remind me if you know who it is.)
"I will score an A once I start studying!" She said.
Furthermore, how sustainable of a method is this for life? You count on fear to start performing. One cannot live under the persistent looming cloud overhead. Sure, you can brag about how you can perform under pressure (consistently and of quality?). Sure, you get an ego boost at your O levels results day where everyone looks at you in awe and speaks about you to their friends as if you’re a living legend. But it will eventually affect your mental health and I struggle to believe you will lead a happy life.
Furthermore, my personal experience shows that glory is not sustainable. My former classmate during O levels who got all the glory for the sudden climb in results, did not do as well as yours truly for his A levels. And dare I say, his current job, despite it being one of the biggest gaming firm (think NBA2K series) doesn’t pay half as much as my business even though what I have has always been commonly labelled as "not-a-real-job". Many a times, glory and success achieved despite procrastination comes down to one thing. Luck.
You may be lucky enough to make it through that one time. You may be lucky enough to make it through subsequently. However, as you move through life, obstacles ahead of you grows, not just in difficulty but in number as well. To my Math students, you should know what this mean as sample size n increases. You effectively live in a Casino.
Can't believe I lost the link to the app that demonstrates how a normal distribution forms as n tends to infinity.
Reasons for procrastination
There are only 3 possible reasons why you struggle with procrastination.
One, you run away from reality.
You’re not going to like what I am about to say.
One way to fix it. I’ve said it in another article. Get into a routine.
As you age, you start to relate to Squidward better.
Success is a result of consistent hard work. I’m not inviting you to sit down for hours on end, completing 7 sets of exam papers in one seating. I am, however, asking you to have a dedicated time slot where your task are all put in front of you. Look at it, face the reality and embrace the difficulty. Understand that the work you have in front of you is real and so are the consequences.
Start slow. Start easy. Get into a state of "flow" and work from there.
Two, you are not held accountable.
In Primary and Secondary School, teachers push you by trying to instill fear by potentially meting out punishments in an attempt to prepare you for life. As you grow older, the fear starts to dwindle and so does the teachers’ expectations of you. In JC, the teachers are more distant, not because they don’t care but rather they have higher workloads and that you need to grow up.
The stars are not going to align for you all the time.
Teachers would still be there to help you in your time management but only if you reach out and have their support. Alternatively, you can seek out study groups on discord like those posted frequently on reddit or form a study group with your friends.
Bitch with the laptop is in my seat.
I was telling one of my students the other day about my former glory days of studying at NLB Bugis with my friends. Queuing up at 8am to get a good seat, before leaving for home at 5pm. When you have companionship while studying, you won’t feel so alone when you struggle. Furthermore, by having someone to answer to (ideally, someone senior to you), you can’t help but feel a level of pressure to perform or to at least attempt. It can be conducive to study as a group only if all of you share the same goal of trying to get shit done.
Three, you don’t know how to complete the task at hand.
We get it. We’ve all had that feeling before. (心有力不足)
You are motivated, you sat your butt down, you put the stack of work in front of you.
You feel the fire in your heart, ready to take on the world. Come what may.
However, as you attempt your first question, you start to struggle but you still manage to get past it. You move on to your next, the same struggle comes but this time, no matter how much hair you pull out, you just can’t seem to solve the question. And so you skip.
As the day goes on, you grow more weary and the fire in you starts to dwindle. You start to get discouraged and exasperated. Eventually, you decide to take the easy way out. You throw in the towel.
We all felt like doing this at some point.
Engaging a tutor tackles all 3 issues of procrastination in addition to the benefits mentioned in another article. Our session together is automatically a weekly routine where we face the reality of the approaching exams. Naturally, a tutor is also an authoritative trustworthy figure that you look up to. We create a microcosm for developing your academic habits that we hope you will tap onto when crunch time arrives.
Besides the most apparent of reasons for the benefit of a tutor, engaging a tutor puts procrastination at bay in the best way possible.
We hit you where it hurts, your pocket.
Guys, this exact moment will happen to you when you're in a relationship.
Many of my students are unaware of the premium they pay for my time. While other tutors prefer to not have students realize the financial capital their parents have invested into them, I’d rather have it otherwise. (I have an excel sheet of my students’ fees, dates of sessions, number of hours done per month to date since we started.)
When it comes to money, most people make a calculated and deliberate decision. Engaging a tutor not only helps you in your academic journey, it also motivates you to excel knowing that you are fully vested in this journey.
Just the other day,
I was giving a pep talk to my J2 and loyal fan of my blog after class revolving around consistency. We spoke at length about her progress and hurdles. She claimed that a lot of her seniors failed prelims and BT. However, they all somehow got an A for their A levels.
Of course, such cases do exist especially so in O levels but I struggle to believe the entire truth to the story. Because the only time I’ve seen someone actually achieved such a feat and had the story published to the entire school occurred to a boy who had scored 12% for his H2 Economics MYE. Not only that, he was shortlisted by the school for night study, only being allowed to leave campus at 9pm, because his RP for MYE was less than ideal.
This story ends with him topping his class for H2 Economics by prelims and being the only student from his class who was listed on the school honour’s roll for 2010 A level results.