Procrastination is putting off or avoiding doing something that must be done. It is natural to procrastinate occasionally. However, excessive procrastination can result in guilt feelings about not doing a task when it should be done. It can also cause anxiety since the task still needs to be done. Further, excessive procrastination can cause poor performance if the task is completed without sufficient time to do it well. In short, excessive procrastination can interfere with school and personal success.Why Do Students Procrastinate?There are many reasons why students procrastinate. Here are the most common reasons:
- Perfectionism. A student's standard of performance may be so high for a task that it does not seem possible to meet that standard.
- Fear of Failure. A student may lack confidence and fear that he/she will be unable to accomplish a task successfully.
- Confusion. A student may be unsure about how to start a task or how it should be completed.
- Task Difficulty. A student may lack the skills and abilities needed to accomplish a task.
- Poor Motivation. A student may have little or no interest in completing a task because he/she finds the task boring or lacking in relevance.
- Difficulty Concentrating. A student may have too many things around that distract him/her from doing a task.
- Task Unpleasantness. A student may dislike doing what a task requires.
- Lack of Priorities. A student may have little or no sense about which tasks are most important to do.
How Do I Know if I Procrastinate Excessively?You procrastinate excessively if you agree with five or more of the following statements:
- I often put off starting a task I find difficult
- I often give up on a task as soon as I start to find it difficult.
- I often wonder why I should be doing a task.
- I often have difficulty getting started on a task.
- I often try to do so many tasks at once that I cannot do any of them.
- I often put off a task in which I have little or no interest.
- I often try to come up with reasons to do something other than a task I have to do.
- I often ignore a task when I am not certain about how to start it or complete it.
- I often start a task but stop before completing it.
- I often find myself thinking that if I ignore a task, it will go away.
- I often cannot decide which of a number of tasks I should complete first.
- I often find my mind wandering to things other that the task on which I am trying to work.
What Can I Do About Excessive Procrastination?Here are some things you can do to control excessive procrastination.
- Motivate yourself to work on a task with thoughts such as "There is no time like the present," or "Nobody's perfect."
- Prioritize the tasks you have to do.
- Commit yourself to completing a task once started.
- Reward yourself whenever you complete a task.
- Work on tasks at the times you work best.
- Break large tasks into small manageable parts.
- Work on tasks as part of a study group.
- Get help from teachers and other students when you find a task difficult.
- Make a schedule of the tasks you have to do and stick to it.
- Eliminate distractions that interfere with working on tasks.
- Set reasonable standards that you can meet for a task.
- Take breaks when working on a task so that you do not wear down.
- Work on difficult and/or unpleasant tasks first.
- Work on a task you find easier after you complete a difficult task.
- Find a good place to work on tasks.
Above all, think positively and get going. Once you are into a task, you will probably find that it is more interesting than you thought it would be and not as difficult as you feared. You will feel increasingly relieved as you work toward its accomplishment and will come to look forward to the feeling of satisfaction you will experience when you have completed the task.Motivating Yourself to StudyIf you find that you lack motivation to study, welcome to the club. Just about every student experiences this problem at one time or another.Motivation is important for good studying. When you are motivated, you will find it easy to stay focused over a period of time. When you are not motivated, you will not only find it difficult to stay focused, but you will find it difficult to get started in the first place.Here are some ways to increase your motivation to study.
- Reward yourself for studying. For example, after a successful study session, have a treat like a nice big ice cream cone. Go crazy and add some cherries and nuts.
- Study with your friends. Don’t make it party time, but you can have fun as you do this.
- Remind yourself of your long-term goals. Achievement of your goals likely requires educational success. Educational success requires studying.
- Eliminate distractions. If you are surrounding by things you would rather do than study, you will probably do those things instead of studying.
- Develop interest in what you have to study. This will make studying more enjoyable.
- Take breaks. When you feel that you need to take a break, try to stop at a point where you are at something that is easy for you. This will make it easier for you to resume studying after your break.
- Establish a comfortable environment. You will be more inclined to study if you feel comfortable.
- Establish reasonable goals for a study session. You probably won’t get very far if you look at your study session as "mission impossible."
- Use a motivational poster. Place the poster where you can see it as you study. The poster should include positive words and a picture depicting success. You can buy one or even make your own. You can also read inspirational stories about real people who have achieved success through effort.
- Just do it. Once you do, you will feel a lot better than if you are worried about getting it done.
Finally, if these suggestions don’t do it for you, just think about the consequences of not studying.
A goal is something you want to achieve. A short-term goal is something you want to achieve soon. Examples of short-term goals are finishing your homework and doing well on tomorrow's test. A long-term goal is something you want to achieve at some later date. Examples of long-term goals are writing a paper and passing a class.To set appropriate goals, you must know what is important for you to accomplish. Then you must set specific and clearly stated goals. If you do not have clearly stated goals, your effort will lack direction and focus. Write your goals to have a record of them.
THE THREE W'S OF GOALS
Each goal you set should state WHAT you will do and WHEN you will accomplish it. Implied in each goal you set is your WILL (determination) to do it. For example, a goal for a research paper might be stated as follows: I will (your determination) finish gathering information for my research paper (what you will do) by November 20 (when you will accomplish it).
CHARACTERISTICS OF APPROPRIATE GOALS
Your goals should be:
- within your skills and abilities. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you set goals you can accomplish.
- realistic. Setting a goal to learn the spelling of three new words a day is realistic. Trying to learn the spelling of fifty new words a day is not realistic.
- flexible. Sometimes things will not go the way you anticipate and you may need to change your goal. Stay flexible so when you realize a change is necessary you will be ready to make the change.
- measurable. It is important to be able to measure your progress toward a goal. It is especially important to recognize when you have accomplished your goal and need to go no further. Failure to measure your progress toward a goal and recognize its accomplishment will result in effort that is misdirected and wasted.
- within your control. Other than when working as part of a group, accomplishment of your goal should not depend on other students. You can control what you do, but you have little or no control over what others do. You may do what you have to do, but if others don't, you will not accomplish your goal.