Procrastination

What type of procrastinator are you? 

Overwhelmed! I procrastinate because there is so much to do and I don't know where to start.

This is very common at university! If you are feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start, try these few ideas for overwhelmed procrastinators:

  • Learn to identify the feeling of “overwhelmed”. Acknowledge and name the feeling. It's OK to feel overwhelmed!
  • Allow yourself to make a start no matter how little time you have. Don’t dismiss what can be done in 10 minutes. You might find that you respect yourself a little more even after the most modest of starts!
  • Practice persistence. Start by putting in a solid half an hour of work. Next study session, try for 35 minutes. Slowly building persistence will help your self-respect grow helping you feel more competent and capable (and you'll be productive while you're at it!).
  • Set a goal and a reward at the same time. For example, if you commit to a solid hour of study, what will you have earned? The only thing better than making a start on a tough assignment is taking a break knowing you're already well on the way.

Bored! I procrastinate because I really have no interest in what I'm doing.

If you're bored, maybe it's time to ask yourself why you are studying what you are studying. If you are feeling like you “have to do something”, review your choices and motives. Make sure that the goals you are following are your own. You might find some of our resources on motivation and goals helpful.

If you still don’t know how to make yourself interested in something, maybe a senior person can help you find out how to enjoy learning beyond simply pursuing grades? This might be a friend, a tutor, a parent or a counsellor. Ask for some advice! Chances are people you know have felt the same way you're feeling right now. What did they do? 

Afraid! I procrastinate because I'm afraid I just don't have what it takes to do a good job.

If you're afraid you'll try and fail, you're definitely not alone. You can be kinder to yourself and prove your abilities by taking things in small steps. Start with an easier, more manageable component of the task you need to finish and build your confidence. Once you have made a solid start on a component that you know you're good at, trying stepping just outside that comfort zone. Remember to congratulate yourself for each small step you take; every journey is the sum of the small steps taken along the way.

And if you're still trying to avoid failure, check out these videos on the value of failure and some successful individuals who have failed more often than you might think!

Perfectionist! I procrastinate because what I'm doing is never quite perfect enough.

High ideals and exacting standards serve a purpose that can be used positively. However, it is important to remember that you are undertaking a task in order to complete it, so it will need to have an endpoint! For some people, the need to perfect everything stops them from completing anything. Identify what the task requires for satisfactory completion and let this guide you. If you think (or know) that perfectionism is a real problem for you, check out our perfectionism resources.

Need some really comprehensive guidance through your procrastination problem? Check out the self-paced modules on understanding and overcoming procrastination from the Centre for Clinical Interventions.

Videos

You may have turned procrastination into an art form but many researchers have turned it into a science. Check out this very helpful video on what scientists know about procrastination and what you can do about it.

 

Here are three helpful and realistic tips for dealing with procrastination, including eating an elephant. 

 

One way of loosening the hold procrastination has on you is by allowing for it. Listen as Charles Duhigg explains why every procrastinator's schedule needs to allow for distractions rather than trying to ignore them.

 

Want to laugh in the face of procrastination? Ellen DeGeneres summarises the problem of procrastination with humility and hilarity.

 

PDF documents

Practical advice for dealing with procrastination
Another great workbook form the Centre for Clinical Interventions outlining how to take charge and really deal with procrastination.

Hint for the management of perfectionism

Preventing procrastination

Productive procrastination