Overcoming Procrastination in Your Studies

Procrastination is one of the most common problems with students. However, it is not uncommon to encounter a number of students who need help with overcoming the habit of putting things off for tomorrow. 

So what does procrastination look like? Procrastination may take the following forms:

– Distraction           – Indecision                – Misjudgment          – Fear/Anxiety

– “Busyness”            – Confusion                 – Avoidance              – Apathy/Hopelessness

When students are distracted, they get derailed into spending time on other things. They can be perpetually busy yet unproductive because they don’t prioritize tasks. Perhaps they are indecisive about where to start first or they are confused about what to do. Students who are fearful or anxious of certain tasks (e.g. presentations, tests, writing) may learn to cope with such feelings by spending time on pleasurable activities instead, avoiding the task at hand. Misjudgments regarding the length of time required to complete an assignment can also lead one to procrastinate. If apathy is the culprit, perhaps there are more serious matters in one’s life that make school look unimportant or the student does not have the confidence to succeed and is therefore feeling hopeless.

It is believed that the timely pursuit of one’s intentions is the most important indicator of success; more so than performance, prestige, and even grades. These are all secondary to one’s commitment to prompt action.

Those who achieve good grades despite their procrastination may find this idea a bit threatening because they are thus far, by definition, unsuccessful regardless of other measures of success. On the other hand, some procrastinators find this idea encouraging because success is defined in such a simple and achievable way. That the most basic sense of achievement is the timely pursuit of one’s intentions offers hope because it frames the problem of procrastination in way that can be changed readily.

Here are some basic reminders to help students beat procrastination:

  • Write a to-do list
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Work on the task at any level, but try to start with the simplest level first
  • Your intentions should override your temporary mood
  • Don’t overestimate the unpleasantness of a task

Oftentimes, procrastination affects more than just academics, touching multiple areas of one’s life. Recognizing procrastination as a personal pattern can help students move forward in other areas of life.

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