Have you ever waited until the last minute to complete an assignment or other task, probably with mixed results? Procrastination is something that probably affects most students at some point or another, but if you’re finding it’s becoming a problem for you, don’t despair. It is possible to develop some new habits, and beat the lack of motivation!
There can be any number of reasons for procrastination, including:
- Not knowing where to start.
- Feeling overwhelmed and tired.
- The task is full of boring bits.
- Feeling there is too much to do.
- The sense of ‘have to’ about a task which can make it less palatable than an optional task.
- Poor organisation.
- Feelings of inadequacy.
- Poor decision-making skills.
- Too many fun distractions.
- Fear of failure, or even fear of too much success!
Do you procrastinate?
It’s important to recognise that putting things off is not always procrastination. You might have a plan that involves working on a task later, or you might feel that this really is not the time to tackle a project. In these cases, you are in control of the situation.
With real procrastination, you know you need to do a task and you somehow can’t face it, can’t get started, keep putting it off, or find you are drawn to other things. You probably also have a sense of not being in control.
With true procrastination you are likely to find that you spend your time doing trivial things – like checking email or Facebook, watching TV, or doing something menial. Anything in fact to get out of doing what you need to do!
If this is becoming a pattern of behaviour, it’s important to get to the cause of why it’s happening. Once you pinpoint the reasons, it becomes easier to formulate a plan to overcome the procrastination habit.
Tips for overcoming procrastination
- If the project seems overwhelming, break it down into manageable chunks of time, with breaks in-between.
- Reward yourself with a break or treat for each half hour you spend on the project.
- Remove temptations. If Facebook or Twitter beckon, you might need to switch them off altogether for a set period of time.
- If you feel overwhelmed, write a list of all you need to get done. A few tasks each day is enough. Tick them off as they get done, and notice how much lighter you feel afterwards!
- Re-organise and tidy your space to make it more conducive to study.
- Make use of a diary or even an alarm to remind you to study.
- Get plenty of sleep, and have some restful downtime each day. Exercise can also help, taking even a short walk can clear your head, and mean you come back to your desk refreshed.
- If you are perfectionist, look at ways of overcoming this tendency.
With persistence and some understanding of your own behaviour patterns, it is possible to beat procrastination habits that are not serving you well. However, if procrastination is proving hard to overcome, you might want to consider getting professional help from a psychologist or counsellor.
Learn more about the courses on offer at Martin College to keep you motivated and beat procrastination!