- Someday Lesson: Working under pressure creates more adrenaline than success.
In university I had a short attention span for school work, so I would start essays as soon as they were assigned and do them bit by bit until a few days before they were due. Most people thought I was crazy, preferring to stay awake the night before, researching, writing and editing in a frenzy, getting the paper done a few minutes before class then crashing big time afterwards.
They’d tell me it was because they worked better that way, that the pressure spurred them on to do great work.
Well, university students (or anyone else) can’t use that excuse any more. It’s been debunked by science.
Toronto’s Globe and Mail recently reported on a study that revealed some interesting findings: last minute adrenaline junkies don’t actually perform better when they work to a very tight deadline.
Timothy Pychyl, the lead researcher on the study, told his test subjects: “‘It’s not that you work better under pressure, it’s that you only work under pressure.”
Procrastination no longer has an out. Greatness doesn’t come from putting things off. Procrastinators simple don’t start until they have to. This type of procrastinator is called an arousal procrastinator meaning only situations that involve stress get them active and producing the work they need to.
And not a single one of his subjects argued with him. They knew what he said was true. They simply were waiting for the last minute because nothing else got them moving.
So, how to arousal procrastinators quit the rush of last minute working? Dr Pychyl provides no answers, but my advice would be to find your adrenaline kicks elsewhere like mountain biking and bungee jumping and just get on with what you’re waiting for the last minute to do.
PS Did you know that Ottawa’s Carleton University has a Procrastination Research Group? Me neither, but I think it’s about to become my new favourite website.