Global Times: I was going to read this but…

【按:Global Times 即《环球时报》英文版(非中文版,据说两者很不一样)。本文包含英文版记者对战拖会的报道。原文链接


A large number of people in China share the same problems of procrastination.

Photo: Guo Yingguang

By Jiang Wanjuan


Two months ago, 25-year-old copy writer Liu Xiaolin faced a simple but undone task: go to the bank to pay her water bill. She received the bill mid-January, two weeks from the deadline, but knowing that lining at the counter would be a hassle and the self-service machine can sometimes be troublesome, she kept putting it off until after the due date.


Even though she was aware that lateness would incur a small penalty, and despite having stuck the bill to her apartment door so she could see it when she left, her schedule meant that moment never came and before she knew it, she was over the deadline by almost a month.


"I was always about to pay for it," she said. "But every time I walked out, I decided that the next day would be the day."


Liu may feel less shocked if she knew that a large number of people actually share the same problem- and some have put themselves in far more serious situations.


Procrastination and its favorites


The forum of a support group "We all suffer procrastination" on currently has more than 20,000 members. Among them are reporters who miss deadlines and important interviews by playing computer games and college students who failed their exams by putting off their studies.


Although the study of procrastination is nothing new in Western countries, psychologists and media in China only recently started to pay attention to the phenomenon, partly because of the growing popularity of the forum, which is believed to be the largest – and possibly only – one of its kind for members to support each other by sharing their experiences and encouraging each other through the Internet.


Some months ago, elite members of the forum and volunteering professionals formed a separate group called "Fighting procrastination" to help newcomers with different activities, such as a book club and visiting psychologists.


"What we want to do is to form a platform with which people can help themselves, given that study and research in our country about procrastination is still scarce," said Yu, founder of the group.


Yu, a PHD student in Biology, had a hard time blaming himself after he lost the chance to study abroad by delaying his application paperwork.


Not just a bad habit


Derived from the Latin procrastinatus, the word procrastination itself literally means "putting forward [until] tomorrow."


"Actually, many people have the habit of delaying things, it is a basic human impulse," said Shi Yu, physiologist with the Armed Police General Hospital. "But if it leads to anxiety and serious problems, the person may have to face their procrastination."


College student Wang Yuwei was aware that she was slow in doing things, but it was only when she came across the word "procrastination" on recently, did the 20-year-old realized her problem was not simple.


She failed to finish homework constantly, even though every time she believed she could do it at the last minute; she knew she had important exams coming up but still found herself watching the latest episodes of Gossip Girl.


Now she has forgotten how and when exactly her grades dwindled from A to F. She hated herself for wandering the Internet doing nothing but kept doing so.


"Sometimes I feel like I have become a different person," she said. "I don't understand why I keep avoiding things that I know are important."


Studies suggest that the vast majority of college students procrastinate, said Shi. Journalists, especially freelancers, and lawyers are also favorite procrastinators.


Fighting procrastination


How to conquer the habit is an eternal topic discussed in the support group. Some  suggested putting their watch back one hour earlier, others propose cutting off the Internet at home and tracking the time spent on each activity with a record.


"The best way to solve the problem is to know the problem and how it was developed," said Shi. "Many people like to associate the problem with laziness, but it is not true. Being lazy is simply not wanting to do anything; procrastination is not about morals, but is a complicated physiological problem."


For Wang, entering college with a flexible curriculum might have encouraged her to slack, and the appearance of distractions such as Iphone and Weibo (a popular microblogging service) offered her more options to stay away from reality.


"But the most important reason, I think, is that I never have a specific plan," she said. "For example, I know that I will go to Singapore for my GRE test in May but I am still doing nothing about ti."


In physiologist Shi's study, people turn to procrastinating for different reasons, such as looking for the challenge  of finishing a task at the last minute being afraid of failure and being unable to make proper plans.


"Procrastination is more about poor time management instead of bad habits," Shi said. "So instead of making decisions to change yourself, make a more specific plan, such as I will get my laundry done by tomorrow night" – or pay that water bill!"

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