Procrastinating, where we delay or avoid a required task or issue that matters to us, is a challenge we all face at one time or another. Procrastination can create stress when the task still needs to be done, and you may have run out of time to do it or to do it to a high standard. This is clearly a problem if it is related to university assignments or exam preparation.
Why do we procrastinate?
Reasons procrastinating include:
- fear of failure;
- lack of focus or motivation;
- low energy levels;
- excessive perfectionism;
- believing the task is too difficult, too big or too boring; or
- poor time management.
If you’re briefly delaying an important task for a genuinely good reason, then you aren’t necessarily procrastinating. However, if you start to put things off indefinitely, or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you probably are procrastinating. The reward and relief of having completed an assignment that you are proud of is much greater than the quick fix you get by procrastinating.
What to do
Tips on beating procrastination
It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.
If you’re procrastinating because you find a task unpleasant, try to focus on the ‘long game’, such as completing your university degree. Research shows that impulsive people are more likely to procrastinate because they are focused on short-term gain. You can combat this by identifying the long-term benefits of completing the task.
Other ways to beat procrastination include:
- forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past;
- commit to the task;
- break down your work into smaller, more achievable tasks;
- reward yourself after completing each task;
- make yourself accountable by studying with someone else;
- minimise distractions; and
- set realistic goals.
More help and advice
headspace provide an interactive tool that can help you to identify and overcome the ways you procrastinate.