How to Combat Procrastination

May 12, 2015
I have been working this year with Riverbend High School Senior Abigail Williams on her Commonwealth Governor’s School Culminating Project. The focus of this project is working through procrastination. I am going to present Abby’s research in a two blog series. This is part one of two.

How to Combat Procrastination

By Nina Parrish with tips and research by Abigail Williams

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is the delay of a task with the intention of eventual completion of that task.

Do you notice that your child has difficulty with procrastination?

Almost everyone is affected by procrastination at some point in their lives. In one study, 95 percent of students reported occasional procrastination while 50 percent reported regular and ongoing procrastination. Some students engage in active procrastination where they purposefully choose to delay an activity because they are motivated by the pressure that time limits create. Other students procrastinate because of personality traits such as perfectionism, low self-esteem, impulsivity or an aversion to the task.

How can procrastination be prevented?

Students can use time management, scheduling and goal-setting activities to decrease procrastination. Here’s how:

  • Keep a daily schedule breaking up larger tasks like projects or papers into small 30-60 minute blocks of time.
     
  • Complete a detailed weekly/monthly schedule that includes class schedule, homework assignments, activities, and family or social obligations.
     
  • Have a regular time or amount of time allotted daily to complete homework, studying and assignments. Complete these assignments in a place that is free of distractions and with access to the necessary supplies.
     
  • Stay motivated by focusing not only on the process, or the means of completion, but on the outcome, or result of the task being completed. Then reward yourself when you reach certain checkpoints while working. For example, with an essay for English, the process would be doing the research and creating the rough draft. As each step in this process is completed, the student might reward themselves with something they enjoy such as a snack, short break, watching videos on YouTube, etc. The overall goal would be the outcome that they hope to achieve such as getting an A on their essay.
     
  • Remember that everyone procrastinates sometimes, but the key to avoiding procrastination is being proactive and managing stress. See more on managing stress in my next blog.

 -Nina Parrish, M.Ed.

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