Procrastination and What to Do When It Arrives

As many of you are aware, procrastination is a big issue in our daily lives. In fact, a “2007 meta-analysis by University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel, PhD, reports that 80 percent to 95 percent of college students procrastinate, particularly when it comes to doing their coursework (Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 1),” according to the American Psychological Association. Even though this method of completing the task last minute seems unconventional, why do we continue to do it and how do we overcome it? Let’s begin with what exactly procrastination is. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of procrastination is to “put off intentionally and habitually.” People tend to come up with many reasons as to why they procrastinate. Here’s an article from Verywell Mind that lists a few reasons why we procrastinate which you might be familiar with.

Now that we have some sort of understanding of procrastination we can learn how we can overcome it. The aforementioned Verywell Mind article says that “[r]esearchers suggest that developing a schedule, carefully planning academic tasks, and improving time-management skills are all effective ways to cope with procrastination”.

– Schedules

Making a plan helps visually show what needs to be done and can help organize the work however you see fit. Don’t forget about when you need/want to complete a task, write it down. Try not to sway from your schedule. Please note that everyone is more productive at certain times. For example, I personally tend to work more in the late evening and sometimes late at night.

– Break It Down

This method is probably more useful with big projects that aren’t due until later. When we are given a big project that seems insurmountable, we tend to get stressed. Taking on bits of a project can make it feel less overwhelming and more manageable.

– Put Away That Phone

This may seem obvious, but studies have shown that even adults struggle from not looking at their phone for long periods of time. In fact, in 2019, abcNews reported that “teens spend an average of seven hours and 22 minutes on their phones a day.” So as the old saying goes: Out of sight, out of mind.

– Reward Yourself

It can be challenging to complete a task that you have absolutely no interest in. Even though getting a good grade may seem like good motivation, we’ve all had that moment of “I don’t care”. Alexander Rozental, a clinical psychologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and a procrastination researcher, says that breaks can count as reward, but make sure that you don’t abuse them and try to make them productive, like cleaning your room.

Want to learn more? Check out this funny Ted Talk: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | Tim Urban

— Maya Ross