Struggling with Procrastination? Here’s How You Can Overcome It

Procrastination is a common problem that many people deal with, especially students. Between cell phones, television, the Internet, and social media, it is very easy for us to get sidetracked from important tasks like homework, studying for exams, and writing papers.

But what exactly is procrastination? In short, procrastination is when you intentionally delay doing something despite knowing that there will be consequences for that delay. But not all procrastinators operate the same way and not all of us delay getting our work done for the same reasons.

Regardless of why you’re putting off your work, there are methods you can use to overcome a bout of procrastination and help you get back on track.

What is procrastination?

how to overcome procrastination

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MindFit Hypnosis defines procrastination as the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Not every detour from a task is considered procrastination though.

There are many reasons why someone cannot complete a task. For instance, it could be that you have something more important or urgent to take care of, you have an emergency that requires your attention, or you’re just unable to complete the task. Therefore, for an action to be considered procrastination, it has to be counterproductive, needless and delaying.

Deciding to put off studying for an exam to watch videos on YouTube is a great example of procrastination, while a campus-wide blackout that prohibits you from typing up your term paper is not considered to be procrastination.

Procrastination can have devastating effects on a student. It can cause:

  • Stress from assignments piling up and impending deadlines
  • Guilt from waiting until the last minute to get assignments and studying done
  • Loss of personal productivity as procrastination becomes a habit
  • Problems with instructors, including late assignments, poorly done assignments, and suffering grades
  • Problems with friends due to leaving assignments until the last minute, which cuts into social time with friends

What causes procrastination?

causes of procrastinationProcrastination can be caused by many factors. However, the causes that are strongly connected to procrastination are a lack of self-confidence, disliking the task, and self-control. In short, you know that you have to study for your mid-term but you can’t bring yourself to do it and end up doing something else (i.e., watching TV, hopping on Facebook, or going out with friends).

There are two types of procrastinators: chronic and situational. Chronic procrastinators have a recurring problem with putting off tasks, while situational procrastinators only procrastinate on specific tasks.

An example of a chronic procrastinator is that they consistently leave assignments, studying, and other tasks until the last minute. On the other hand, a situational procrastinator might procrastinate just on a single assignment but complete all others on time.

I’m sure many of you have found different ways to justify putting off a task but what exactly are the different excuses that students use to procrastinate? A few common reasons include:

  • Distraction – to avoid doing a task, you might decide to instead immerse yourself in another activity like going on social media, surfing the web, or calling a friend
  • Laziness – this one is self-explanatory. You are simply being lazy and don’t want to do the task
  • Avoidance – this is where you avoid the place or situation where the task can be completed. For example, perhaps you’re avoiding your bedroom where you normally study for your exams
  • External Blaming – you put off doing a task because of something out of your control, such as blaming your roommate for watching TV, which is causing a lot of noise and distracting you
  • Trivialization – convincing yourself that the task is not that important or putting off studying for an exam because you still have a couple of weeks to study

How can I overcome procrastination?

How can you overcome procrastination when it strikes? Here are a few tips that you can use to avoid procrastinating on those important assignments.

Keep things in perspective

One big reason some of us procrastinate is that we make a task a bigger deal than it really is. For instance, you might avoid studying for an exam because it is too boring. So instead of thinking about how boring a subject might be for you, try keeping things in perspective. Realize that if you avoid studying, it will create more stress when you have to study at the last minute. Tell yourself that despite being unpleasant, you can get through a study session.

Consider why you are doing the task and what you can accomplish from completing the task. A great example is if you study early and often for your final exam, then you will get a good grade in the course and this will boost your GPA.

Break up large tasks into smaller ones

When a task feels too big, it can cause you to procrastinate. Instead, break up the task into smaller chunks. For instance, if you have a 15-page paper to write for a class, you could create an outline and complete one section each night instead of trying to knock out the entire assignment in one sitting.

Reward yourself

Reward yourself for completing a task. Don’t use your phone or socialize with friends until you finish studying or complete an assignment. This helps you avoid distractions and turns them into incentives for getting the task done.

Find a study buddy

Find a partner. If you know that you tend to procrastinate on studying, find a close friend or classmate that can study with you. This person can also hold you accountable for doing the task and you can also reward each other one you finish studying.

Procrastination occurs when you intentionally avoid doing a task even though there are consequences for completing it late or not doing it at all. This can cause stress, chronic procrastination, and issues with grades and instructors.

However, there are ways that you can avoid succumbing to procrastination. You can persevere through it despite the task being unpleasant, finding a study partner, thinking about the benefits of getting the task done on time, and rewarding yourself for doing the task.

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