Tackling Procrastination

by | Jun 27, 2023 | 0 comments

Overcoming Procrastination 

Do you find you leave your studies to the eleventh hour? Are you putting things off? When you sit down to study, do you spend more time organising your notes and your desk as opposed to getting down to productive work?  

A common question students ask me is, how can I stop procrastinating.  

In this blog post I will look at what is procrastination, the causes of procrastination and how to overcome procrastination when it comes to your studies.  

What is procrastination? 

Procrastination is the delaying or postponing of a task so there is a significant lapse in the time between when you intend to do something and when you actually do it. In other words, you are putting things off. This can result in missed opportunities, missed deadlines, negative emotions, low self-esteem, and increased stress and frustration.   

Causes of Procrastination 

There can be simple causes of procrastination such as: 

  • The task appears overwhelming, or you are feeling overwhelmed, 
  • The inability to prioritise, and 
  • A lack of skills and knowledge to complete the task. 

More complex reasons for procrastination include: 

  • A fear of failure or a fear of making mistakes, and  
  • Perfectionist tendencies 

How to beat procrastination? 

There are many ways you can beat the habit of procrastination. 

Firstly, write down the reason you are avoiding the task. By writing down your thoughts, this can give you a lot more clarity as to why you are procrastinating, and it can reduce your stress levels. 

If the task appears overwhelming, break it down into small manageable chunks. When we break down tasks into small manageable chunks, we tend to feel less stressed. As students, we often tend to think of the end goal which is getting our exams. This is called a performance goal. A better approach is to think in terms of learning goals. A learning goal is where we focus on understanding and mastering one small element of the syllabus.  

It is also important to watch your self-talk. Sometimes the internal dialogue with us can be negative. For example, “I can’t do this”, “this topic or task is far too overwhelming”. Reframe your self-talk to “what is the one small step I can take today to move forward with my studies?” 

Limit yourself to short periods of work. What this means is, work for 25 minutes on a task and take a five-minute break. This is also called the pomodoro technique. Take a few moments to reflect on what worked well for you in the 25 minutes study? What have you learned? What else do you need to learn for better mastery of the topic?   

Schedule time for the task, even to get a little bit done. Sometimes, if we find a task overwhelming or complicated, we tend to avoid it. We leave the task to the end of the day, or we can often leave it to the end of our study leave. Often, we tend to focus on the subjects or the tasks we enjoy or the topics we find easy. This is normal human behaviour. A helpful technique to use is to “eat the frog”. This means, complete the unpleasant tasks first. In other words, when you are planning a block of study, schedule the subjects you are finding difficult first and keep the easier subjects to the end of your study block.    

Next, consider finding an accountability partner like a friend, colleague, or family member. This is someone who supports you to keep a commitment or maintain progress on a task. Discuss with your accountability partner the tasks you are procrastinating on and ask them to check up on your progress regularly. This increases motivation to complete the task. 

Remind yourself of your strengths and your capabilities. Consider the times in the past where you were procrastinating on a task and what you did to overcome this? 

Procrastination is a habit. 

The good news is that procrastination is a habit. Bad habits can be broken, and new habits can be made.  

When building new habits, a useful technique to use is called the “Cue, Behaviour, Reward” technique.  

The “cue” is a trigger that sets off our habitual routine. The behaviour is the action that comprises of the habit. Finally, the reward is a tangible or intangible positive reinforcement for the behaviour.  

Let’s take an example: 

Cue – If I start browsing social media instead of tackling my studies,  

Behaviour – Then I will put my phone on aeroplane mode. 

Reward – The reward is a deep productive break once I have completed the task. 


Another example  

Cue – If I avoid studying a difficult topic, 

Behaviour – Then I will “eat the frog” and study this topic first. 

Reward – The reward is studying the subject I really enjoy next. 


We have seen that procrastination is a habit that can result in feelings of stress, overwhelm and disappointment. However, habits can be changed. To change your habits, break the tasks into small manageable chunks, “eat the frog”, watch out for the negative self-talk, limit yourself to short periods of work and find an accountability partner.  


For any further information on procrastination or if you would like some support combating procrastination, reach out to me.