Everyone has postponed or deferred tasks at various times, without loss or detriment. But procrastination has become a habit for many people; and it has trapped them into a cycle of putting off tasks and responsibilities that creates a productivity problem. Approximately 95% of people acknowledge that they putting off many of their tasks, according to the author of The Procrastination Equation, Piers Steel. Many people developed this habit as students, so addressing it during formative years is essential if the goal is to keep it in hand.
WHAT IS PROCRASTINATION?
Procrastination is the habitual process of postponing a task and choosing to do something else instead that is more enjoyable or easier. It is the action of delaying either the start or completion of a task, despite possible consequences. But the consequences can be more adverse than many students realize.
Procrastination can cause a lot of distress over the long term. It can lead to increased stress, sleep issues, health problems, and poorer performance overall, often robbing students of their motivation. It can result in reduced productivity as it holds students back from achieving their goals.
The more averse one finds a task to be, the more difficult it becomes to stave off procrastination. Research has shown there to be common characteristics among most tasks that people procrastinate due to such aversion. People are more inclined to procrastinate when a task is perceived to be frustrating or difficult, ambiguous or unclear, unstructured or disorganized, boring, frightening, or absent of meaning on a personal level. These aspects are at odds with logic—there is no logical reason these characteristics should keep a student from accomplishing any tasks—but one’s emotions often dissuade him or her from moving forward. There are ways to withstand the urge to procrastinate, though.
HOW TO FIGHT THE PROCRASTINATION IMPULSE
Trying to think differently about tasks can help change a student’s approach to them. Sometimes it is simply a matter of changing perspective to accomplish things that seem overwhelming or daunting—changing perspective can clarify effective ways to address them. Read on for some tips for fighting the impulse to procrastinate.
Face fears with a list. Fear is often the most major factor that contributes to student procrastination. Whether it’s a fear of failure, a fear of making mistakes, or even a fear of success, addressing what is keeping you from getting started can help you to overcome your procrastination habit. A first step towards facing those fears is to make a to-do list of the things that you need to accomplish. Making lists is an easy way to start combatting procrastination because it helps you to organize your tasks. Further, including the dates of any deadlines next to each item on the list helps with prioritization. (BONUS: setting a timer at the start of each task can help with focus.)
Get started. Getting started on a task is often the most difficult step towards accomplishing it. It’s often easier to continue working through a task after starting on it because the tasks that usually tempt students to procrastinate are rarely as overwhelming as they believe them to be. Starting a task means students basically “jump-start” their brains to process it; this makes them more likely to press on with the work until it is completed.
Optimize your environment. One’s environment can impact productivity, so it’s important to eliminate environmental distractions. This means working in a quiet location with few to no interruptions. One of the most impactful ways students can do this is by disconnecting from electronic devices that aren’t necessary for completing the tasks at hand. Disconnecting from electronic devices is key; they are exceptionally distracting due to constant notifications for incoming texts and emails, not to mention the Siren Song of social media. Understanding that disconnecting is often extremely difficult for students, it is important to note ways that can help them to do so, such as moving mobile phones to another room, turning off the computer WiFi when it isn’t required, or even using apps designed to block access to distracting sites until the device or computer is restarted. Disconnecting helps students to complete important tasks effectively.
Break down the work. Breaking tasks down into more manageable chunks of work is another way that students can combat procrastination. When faced with a big project, breaking it down into a series of smaller steps helps. Estimating how long each task will take to complete, including a buffer on either side, allows students to focus on efficiency. Once you have clearly listed the steps you need to take to accomplish a task, you can begin working on those individual chunks and dominate the task until completion.
Get a partner. Another person can partner with a student to help avoid procrastination. After establishing specific deadlines for completing a task, having someone else to help you stay on track is key. A tutor can partner with you to help you be accountable, and to encourage you to complete any required tasks more efficiently. A tutor can serve well as an accountability partner to students, combining assistance with learning academic subject matter with helping students to commit and follow through with things more consistently.
Procrastination is a scourge for many students who know what needs to be done but sometimes feeling too overwhelmed by the idea of it to accomplish it. But it is possible to conquer the habit of procrastination. Tutoring provides many benefits for students, including help to address and overcome this habit. If your child struggles with procrastination, Tots ‘N Tutors can help! Tots ‘N Tutors is a professional mobile tutoring company that offers support to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and college in all subject areas. Meeting with students individually or in small groups, in person or remotely, our learning guides increase the ability of students to manage their learning and their tasks overall. Contact Tots ‘N Tutors today to talk about how we can help your student reach their academic and time management goals.