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Doing it ‘N.O.W’: a guide to overcoming procrastination


All of us may have a way of having clear goals and clear priorities. Well that’s good, but does that assure success as a student. What is the use of a neatly written action plan, until and unless it is worked upon? The best plans can be side tracked if no action is taken on them or the action is delayed. This is even truer when studying is concerned. The following paragraphs will help you understand the reasons why people procrastinate and how to avoid it.

What is Procrastination?
Procrastination is the tendency to avoid doing a task. It can be putting off the task completely or doing it at a later date. It can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt among students. Procrastination has a high potential for giving rise to complex situations as it interferes with your academic and personal success.

Reasons for Procrastinating
Poor time management can be a cause for procrastination. What is procrastination - it means putting of things to tomorrow that have to be done today. In other words, it means not managing time wisely. May be you are uncertain of your priorities, goals and objectives. Or you may be overwhelmed with the task at hand. This leads to putting off your academic assignments for a later date. Alternately, it may be so that you are spending a great deal of time with your friends and social activities. And one of the reasons found commonly among the students is that they keep worrying about the upcoming examination, class project and paper submission rather than completing them.

Are you facing any difficulty in concentrating? It so happens that when you sit at your study table you find yourself daydreaming, staring into nothing, and looking at some pictures or objects on your table, instead of doing the task. Your environment is distracting and noisy. You keep shuffling between things like pens, erasers, dictionary, etc. Or is your desk cluttered and unorganised? Sometimes you sit / lay on your bed to study or do some assignments. Well if your answer is yes to all or most of these, you will probably notice that these are a few reasons that promote time wasting and frustration.

The feeling of fear and anxiety may also lead to procrastination. For example you may be overwhelmed with the task and afraid of getting a failing grade. As a consequence, you may spend a great deal of time worrying about your upcoming exams, papers and projects, rather than completing them. Negative beliefs such as; "I cannot succeed in anything" and "I lack the necessary skills to perform the task" may allow you to stop yourself from getting work done.

Procrastination may also be caused due to personal problems like, financial difficulties, problems with your family members, friends, etc. Or the reason may also be that you find the task boring.

Are you a person who seeks perfection and may end up delaying the task in the process? Are the expectations you have from yourself and others unrealistic? You may believe that it is a must to read everything you can grab on a subject before you can begin to write a paper on that. You may think that you haven't done the best you possibly could do, so it's not good enough to hand in.

Another reason for procrastination may be the fear of failure. You may think that if you don't get a good grade in the term papers, you are a failure. Or that if you couldn’t perform well in an exam, you will never be able to better your performance. Well……there are always ups and downs in life. IT’S BETTER TO TRY AND FAIL THAN NOT TO TRY AT ALL.

Ways to Overcome Procrastination
Well….. understanding the all the reasons for procrastination is of no use unless you act upon them to overcome them. What can we do to overcome them….. you may be wondering. Let’s explore it together.

  • First of all, recognise the problems that pull you down. These could be any of the ones we discussed just now or anything else.
  • Identify your own goals, strengths and weaknesses, values and priorities.
  • Compare your actions with the values you feel you have. Do you see a consistency among them?
  • Discipline yourself in the way you use time. Set priorities. Study in small blocks instead of long time periods. For example, study has shown that you will accomplish more if you study or work in 60-minute blocks and take 10-minute breaks every hour, as compared to a 2-3 hours schedule with no breaks.
  • Reward yourself after you complete a task.
  • Motivate yourself to study: cherish the success, but do not ignore the failure. Wherever possible, try to study in small groups. Break large assignments into small tasks. Keep a reminder schedule and checklist.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Check out your environment: Remove or minimise noise and other distractions. Ensure adequate lighting. Have necessary equipment at hand. Don't waste time wandering around for things.
  • Avoid getting too comfortable when studying. A desk and straight-backed chair is generally recommended (a bed may be not a good place to study).

Contributed by Javid Jamal


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