Procrastination is the act of putting off something until a later time. We procrastinate when we know what to do, but put off doing it until later. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and guilt. It can also leave us feeling unproductive, lazy, and ineffectual. In others words, it can affect the way we feel about ourselves. Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but all of us have areas in our lives in which we don’t procrastinate. We tend to shine in those areas. So, don’t let procrastination affect your feelings of self-worth.

Reasons Why We Procrastinate

  1. Fear and anxiety. You may be overwhelmed with the task and afraid of getting a failing grade. Instead of completing papers, projects, and exams, you spend time worrying about them.
  2. Being unclear about what to do when the task is unfamiliar.
  3. Lack of relevance. You may not see a reason for a task, which may lead to low motivation to complete the task.
  4. Negative beliefs. Self-talk such as “I can’t do anything right” may influence you not to do the work.
  5. Unrealistic expectations or perfectionism. You may set your standards so high they are unobtainable. This can lead to not completing a project because “it’s not good enough”.
  6. Poor time management.Procrastination may result from not managing time wisely. Being unclear about your priorities, goals, and objectives can result in putting off academic assignments to hang out with friends or other activities.
  7. Difficulty concentrating.Work environments that are noisy, distracting, and cluttered are not conducive to focusing on assignments.
  8. Personal problems such as financial difficulties or problems with your boyfriend/girlfriend.
  9. Finding the task boring.

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.

William James

Overcoming Procrastination

  • Use a wall calendar or monthly planner. Write in each deadline (exams, papers, projects, etc.) on the day it is due.
  • Make sure you are clear about what is expected for each task. If you are unclear, ask your instructor to clarify.
  • Break large tasks into small steps, scheduling each step into your planner. This makes those difficult tasks seem less overwhelming.
  • Prioritize your tasks. Start with the task with the closet deadline or the one most urgent to complete.
  • Minimize distractions while working. Organize your workspace. Turn off the T.V. Restrict computer use to the task at hand (no Facebook!). Go to the library if you’re unable to concentrate in your room.
  • Schedule in breaks so you don't burn out or work inefficiently because you are too tired to do your best. Study no longer than one hour before taking a short break.
  • Reward yourself for completing a task (catching a movie, buying something you want). Use small rewards for intermediate goals and a larger reward for finishing a project or paper.

More Tips...


  • Don’t wait until you are “in the mood”. There is no perfect time, so stop waiting for it.
  • Be realistic and don’t aim for perfection. Write down the basic information needed for the task. Plan to revise and fine tune it later.
  • Schedule regular down time for recreation, exercise, and socializing with friends.
  • Keep reminding yourself that you CAN do it! You’ve done it before successfully and you can again. Think of strategies that worked before when you were successful and use them now.
  • Eat healthy foods and get enough sleep. Most adults function best on 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. Getting less than 6.5 hours nightly impairs your memory and ability to concentrate.
  • If an assignment doesn’t seem relevant to you, remember your life goals. They can provide motivation and help us to prioritize.

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

Recommended Reading:

The 60 Second Procrastinator: Sixty Solid Techniques to Jump-Start Any Project and Get Your Life Started

by Jeffrey Davidson

Time Efficiency Makeover: Own Your Time and Your Life by Conquering Procrastination

by Dorothy Breiwinger & Debby Ticks