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[Op-Ed] Procrastination

Posted March. 02, 2009 06:39,   


You sit at your desk to study. The moment you open your book, you think you’ve got to reply to your friend’s e-mail. You turn on a computer and send an e-mail. When you pick up the book again, you suddenly realize that your desk is messy. You clean up your desk and then your room. Then you sweat and feel thirsty. You drink a glass of water, and you feel like going to the bathroom. You spent too much time. You think, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and go to bed. This experience is quite common.

Dr. Jeong Jae-seung, professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was selected as a next-generation leader for this year by the Davos Forum. He told the latest edition of the Donga Business Review, a biweekly magazine published by The Dong-A Ilbo, that procrastination is a major problem in today’s society. According to a survey conducted by Fuschia Sirois, a psychology professor at the University of Windsor in Canada, 40 percent of respondents suffered financial losses due to procrastination and were not healthy. They also had more stress than those who did their work on time.

Here is one example. Many people pay additional charges because they fail to meet the deadline to pay taxes or bills. People decide to quit smoking or go on a diet as New Year’s resolutions, but fail after more than a week. Many students get lower grades for turning in their assignments late. Moreover, the subprime mortgage crisis was triggered by the idea of buying a house first and paying for it later with the profit after the property appreciated in value.

To avoid procrastinating, experts advise to set an achievable goal and make it a habit to finish it before deadline. Journalists are also good at keeping on time because they are trained to be on deadline. A saying goes that a day’s work for a journalist takes a government official a week and a professor a month.

Stephen Covey, the author of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” advises to do things first that are non-urgent but important. Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “If you don’t walk today, you’ll have to run tomorrow.”

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)