Pondering my genetic procrastination

Everybody deals with deadlines in different ways, but generally speaking, most people procrastinate to varying degrees.

Time pressure has a different effect on different people. For some, it overwhelms and overcomes them, and results in missed opportunities and late penalties. For me, fear of failure is like an Epipen to the heart — the less time I have, the more focused I become.

A study published this spring in Psychological Science reported that procrastination is a genetic tendency and, therefore, some people are more prone to it than others.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder; it entailed observing 347 pairs of identical and fraternal twins as they worked through tasks, and analyzing them on their abilities to set and reach goals.

Procrastination has a reputation for being a bad habit. However, the results of this study suggest that a genetic tendency toward procrastination is linked with impulsivity — a trait that would have aided our ancestors in survival.

When the 11th hour hits, the adrenaline kicks in and I am able to finish something under extreme pressure.

This could explain how habitual procrastinators, like myself, keep getting away with it. When the 11th hour hits, the adrenaline kicks in and I am able to finish something under extreme pressure. The satisfaction of pulling off a paper mere hours before its due date, resulting in average grades or better, can be addictive.

While procrastination is usually seen as a waste of time, I justify myself by not spending this ‘wasted’ time worrying. I delay tasks with a purpose, and trust that I will be able to handle them at a later date. After each last-minute triumph, I am reminded of how fragile a balance this is and a seed of doubt reminds me that I just might drop the ball next time. But, even with the risks and doubts, I continually find myself in the same situation.

After a few instances of coming through in a tight frame of time, it’s easy to rely on your own ability to rally at the last minute. I can’t say that this is a good strategy, but it’s simply a crutch that I’ve become accustomed to leaning on.

Generally, people don’t make masterpieces under pressure, but it’s a damn good motivator.