Hello everybody, welcome to episode 113 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and we’re going to be talking today about a new topic that we’ve dealt with from time to time – procrastination. It sorta seems like a cute thing we do and laughingly brush off, but there can be more to it than that, and today we’ll explore the depths of procrastination a little bit when it involves a thesis. Here’s the question…
QUESTION: “I'm a 24-year-old student who is struggling to graduate from college and find a job suitable for my qualifications. Tomorrow morning I have my final exam and the only thing that will remain after that is going to be my thesis. I find myself procrastinating too much regarding writing my thesis and I cannot figure out a way that I can make this work and be pleasant at the same time.”
Philosophers on Procrastination
Procrastination. We’ve not talked about that yet, I love it. Good question. Definitely the type of problem that we tend to normalize a lot and because of that, we don’t make much progress with it.
Hence the reason that ancient philosophers event spent time talking about procrastination – it’s not just a new thing that’s come with the rise of the internet.
So the facts about procrastination when you take the normalization away from it aren’t so hot.
Research shows that procrastination undeniably leads to stress, work that isn’t up to par, and even a study done by H&R Block has shown that people who procrastinate on their taxes end up owing more money the closer to the deadline that they file.
Just learned about that one when I started reading a little after seeing this question.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
And why do we do this? Why do we procrastinate?
Why are you procrastinating? Well you’re doing it because, like always, your feeling brain is overriding your thinking brain. By procrastinating now, you get quick hits that make you feel good. You instead choose to spend the time on fun stuff for quick hits of pleasure.
Your satisfaction is currently moderated or even increased (as it is for all procrastinators at the beginning), but you’re now starting to hit that curve when it starts to drop drastically as reality about your thesis sets in.
For my money, that procrastination curve that everyone hits, when your mood goes from it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine to oh no, oh no, oh no, is caused by a perceived checkpoint. So when all of a sudden your friends are saying their half way done with theirs, or there’s a month left, or a week left. Something pretty measurable or hardly defined.
Maybe the completion of a final exam, hmm?
I’d assume you’re starting to hit that curve now since you’ve finished that exam, which is a huge landmark, and since you’ve submitted this question. It’s only downhill from here if you don’t change something.
Could Procrastination Work?
Could procrastinating work if it’s something you know that you can do just as efficiently right before the deadline, like putting a shirt on right when you leave the house rather than right when you wake up? Sure it could.
Could procrastinating work, even be beneficial, if it means you’re putting off less significant tasks and instead prioritizing the most valuable and/or taxing ones first? Sure it could.
But writing a thesis doesn’t fall into either of those examples, so what to do?
Writing A Thesis: It's Daunting
Writing a thesis is something so daunting, so huge, so crucial that it’s hard to not see it as one monstrous entity. And this is the trouble a lot of us tend to fall into when approaching something so pressing.
It feels like something that needs to be done all at once, and our tendency to put present satisfaction first makes it more difficult to approach it.
But the truth is that something like a thesis only needs to be done all at once and thus actually be miserable if it’s not completed until the end.
Goals: One Step at a Time
Habit researchers prove time and again that accomplishing big goals is best done in small, daily chunks.
It doesn’t need to be done early. It doesn’t need to be done late. It needs to be done slowly and steadily. If you start working on your thesis for even a half an hour or 45 minutes each day, you’ll actively be chipping away at it, you’ll feel yourself gaining momentum, you’ll officially be one of the people who is working on their thesis (rather than hoping to be), and above all, you’ll find the pleasantness you seek because your emotions will be regulated.
As long as a small piece of time is dedicated to it each day, you won’t have to worry about when you’re going to do it, and it won’t have to take much time at all from other things you enjoy.
Frame the World Around Your Thesis
In fact, it’ll be even more enjoyable to you if you frame the world around your thesis work accordingly:
- You might commit to working on it at a time when you know you won’t be tempted to do other fun things, like right in the morning if you like going out with your friends at night, for example.
- You can also pair this work time with things you enjoy, such as sitting in the sun or with good music on in this background.
- You can give yourself a small reward after each work session, even one of those big, red “Good Job” buttons will do the trick.
You should absolutely make the work meaningful, so writing a thesis about something you actually care about or, at the very least, shifting your focus onto how beneficial this thesis will be for your learning and preparedness when you do find a job you feel is suitable.
And finally, don’t be afraid to get an accountability buddy involved – preferably someone who works alongside you on their thesis or something else or someone who gives you reminders to do your work that you have to check in with.
Conclusion: Putting Off Your Thesis
So look, at the end of the day, putting off your thesis is more about your emotions surrounding the work than the work itself.
It’s plain to see your emotions are starting to decline, and I’m assuring you that they’ll get worse if you don’t find a way to bring them into the equation.
Look for the ways I’ve listed and other ways to intertwine the work with fun and incentive, and the thesis will start to write itself.
Thank you again to the student who sent this in. It was a great question to look at today, a nice new topic to explore, and although I mentioned it being around since the beginning of time, I do still feel it’s on the uprise as distractions are unquestionably becoming a bigger part of our lives.
So very timely and very important. If you’ve got a question you’d like our help with here on Optimal Living Advice, please go ahead and email it to us at our email address, advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
We welcome your inquiries. That brings us to the end for today, my friends. I appreciate you being here, and I’ll look forward to the next episode, as always. Take care.