Procrastination Is Bad for Your Grades

For being such an obviously bad thing, procrastination is highly popular. It is the stuff of Mark Twain and Ellen Degeneres and Oscar Wilde quotes, and lists of those quotes plastered on photos of clouds. It’s a little inside joke that we share, a small human failing that we all chide each other about but also find sort of endearing and adorable.

Let’s be clear: Procrastination is not cute. A laid-back attitude toward society-wide idling is doing America no favors. It’s time we wake up to the scourge of dilly-dallying and turn our lives around in the deep way that Montel Williams told us to—before he started stumping for payday lenders and following you on Twitter.

Scott Dacko and David Arnott

A new five-year study of 777 marketing students from the Warwick Business School shows that students who turned in their homework assignments just before the deadline—which the researchers took as a proxy for procrastination—get the worst grades. The deleterious effects didn’t set in until 24 hours before the due date; turning an assignment in two days ahead of time wasn’t worse than turning it three days before.

But after the 24-hour mark, students’ average scores dropped as they inched closer to the deadline. Students who submitted their essays at the very last minute earned scores that were 5 percent lower than people who handed it in the day before it was due. That may not seem like a lot, but it translated into a full grade lower for these extreme procrastinators.

Then add to the growing body of evidence that procrastination has tangible, negative effects. Studies have shown that procrastinators are more stressed, sicker, and less likely to do anything about that. If your parents bring this up, remind them that researchers have also found that procrastination is genetically linked to impulsiveness and can be inherited. So it’s not totally your fault. Tell that to your professor. Tomorrow, or something.