The Psychology of University Procrastination: How to Fight the Beast

Psychology of University Procrastination

Every night in a university, students with an assignment to turn in the next day will almost certainly pull an all-nighter to get the assignment finished. Of course, they were given enough time to get the work done, but as students suffering from procrastination, they waited patiently for the deadline.

No matter how tough the work is, students find it extremely difficult to start working on the assignment especially if they’re not turning it in anytime soon. This not only leads to failing grades, one’s health is bound to crash under the unnecessary pressure and stress brought about by procrastination.

The biggest challenge faced by a procrastinating student is trying to exhaust a course syllabus the night before the examination. This can be pretty tasking as the body is left with no time to recover because the student has to study for the next paper. Thus it is no surprise to see a large number of the student population sick during examination periods, no surprise either that their grades are capable of giving anyone (the students inclusive) a mild heart attack.

As humans, procrastination is something we can’t push to the curb since we all happen to suffer from it. However, it becomes a disease for the one whose life is lived on procrastination to the point where it affects their grades, jobs, social life, and of course, their health. But it’s a disease that can be fought and it’s one you can win unless you procrastinate the fight.

Why Procrastinate?

As pointed out by a 2007 study, 80 to 95 percent of college students were avid fans of procrastination and with a value this high, it becomes imperative that we ask ourselves why. Why do students procrastinate? This could range from viewing the work to be irrelevant and boring to not feeling the assignment or work needs to be done at a given time.

  • They see the assignment, project work or material (course) as boring. If they find it boring, chances are they’re going to wait till they can no longer put it off.
  • They find the assignment or task really difficult, so they neither try to work on it or read about it, they just imagine they’ll be able to do it when they can’t procrastinate any longer.

As postulated by Ferrari et al., students were prone to procrastination because:

  • They assumed wrongly that a six-hour school work would be done and over within two hours.
  • They assumed that they had to be in the mood or be mentally prepared before setting out to do work.
  • They thought of one day as one week for instance. Feeling overconfident that the task could be achieved in a shorter amount of time.
  • They were waiting for the right time, that divine timing where all you seem to want to do was to finish that assignment. But of course, later on, you’ll found out that there is never a right time.

Causes of Procrastination

  • Poor concentration skills: this tends to make the student dump the work the moment they get started on it.
  • Lack of understanding: a work that is understood will most likely be favored over one that’s not.
  • The illusion that pressure makes you work better: does this sound like you? Of course, it does, this is definitely one excuse that gets tossed around quite often.
  • Not being in the mood to do it: most times, students are fond of waiting to feel like doing their school work, but exactly how many times have you felt like doing it?
  • Lack of motivation to do the assignment or read for the course.
  • Perfectionism: students who are perfectionists tend not to get a lot done because they’re stuck trying to find the perfect way to get it done.
  • Forgetting about it: truth be told, most students do not even remember they have an assignment to be done until they get a call from a friend asking if they’ve done it. Has this happened to you?
  • The illusion that the work to be done will take only a few minutes. Sad news, it’s going to take hours!
  • It could also be that you’re worried sick of failing. So instead of working, you worry.
  • Habits are difficult to break: for some students, getting things done at the dying minute has become their habit and breaking out of it seems impossible but it isn’t.

How to Overcome Procrastination

Fighting the beast is not something most students are interested in; well, not until their grades take a huge plunge. Below are a few tips that would help you get started and hopefully with time, get you to win the battle:

  • Create a serene workspace that’s free from distractions. And yes, distractions include social media and/or internet access. If you need internet access to work, then turn off your social media apps.
  • Engage in a healthy lifestyle: this is simple, all you’ve to do is eat well, do some mild exercises and sleep well. This equips you with better understanding when working.
  • Ditch cramming and develop good reading skills. Read to understand, and not just to pass.
  • Keep a schedule lest you forget: ensure you work at the stipulated time and not when you feel like it, because you’ll never feel like it.
  • Do not overestimate the time you’ve got and most importantly, do not underestimate the work that needs to be done – it’s better you overestimate the work.
  • Realizing that no one actually works better under pressure.
  • Develop interest (love) in school work: being interested in it will help you avoid procrastination too. Think about it, if you love baking, then you will bake, this also applies to school work.

The effects of procrastination will not be felt if it’s not chronic because we all procrastinate, but how much do you procrastinate? Understanding why you procrastinate is a first step towards stopping procrastination.

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Lauren Bradshaw
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Lauren started writing in 2003. Since then, she tried her hand in SEO and website copywriting, composing for blogs, and working as an academic writer. Her main interests lie in content marketing, developing communication skills, and blogging.