How to Stop Procrastinating: A Self-Help Guide for College Students

How to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination is an enormously widespread problem that affects a staggering number of people. According to recent studies, as many as 20-25% of adults tend to procrastinate. Students are no different, with 80-95% of them often resorting to “putting things off until later.” However, such destructive behavior cannot but have negative consequences for both academic and personal success, and this is a distressing fact of the day. Today, we will discuss the nature of procrastination, discover why it often afflicts students, and offer effective techniques on how to stop procrastinating.

Further in the article:

All You Need to Know about Procrastination: A Brief Fact Sheet

The issue of procrastination has been the subject of much research. New classifications, factors, and analyses of triggers of the issue appear in the media on an almost weekly basis. We’ll focus on the main points that are well-known and accepted by the global community.

  • Procrastination is the process of intentionally delaying or postponing accomplishing something, even knowing that doing so will result in undesirable consequences (Wikipedia, 2023).
  • Procrastination is motivated by the desire for immediate reward and the avoidance of inconvenience. The human brain is hardwired to search for pleasures and evade distress/discomfort. In the context of procrastination, this means that people prefer easy activities that bring quick gratification, and put off things that require a lot of effort, attention, and dedication for an “indefinite later.”
  • Experts distinguish two classes of procrastination: active and chronic (passive). Active procrastination is the purposeful deferral of duties in favor of more important or productive ones. Sometimes it is done to increase productivity and to try to work better/faster under pressure. Chronic procrastination, on the other hand, is putting off tasks consistently, even to one’s own detriment. What does this mean? A person cannot bring himself or herself to complete a task, knowing that there will be negative consequences: an accumulation of tasks, a remark from a boss/professor, or even dismissal/expulsion from work/college.

procrastination classes

  • Researchers believe that procrastination is connected to low self-regulation, poor time management, and even perfectionism. Dr. Linda Sapadin, a well-known psychologist and author of a number of books on procrastination, even categorized distinct classes of procrastinating personalities: the Perfectionist, the Dreamer, the Worrier, the Defier, the Crisis-Maker, and the Over-doer.
  • In the era of mass digitalization, when achieving different types of pleasure (eating, shopping, watching movies, etc.) can be done with a single click on your favorite gadget, avoiding procrastination has become a more complicated task.
  • Academic procrastination, which is expressed in postponing assignments and study sessions, can lead to lower grades and a deterioration of the learning process. Constant educational procrastination has a negative impact on overall academic performance.
  • Beating procrastination is possible! Recognizing that you have this glaring problem and applying effective methods for managing time, in some cases even working with a psychologist, can help you overcome procrastination.

Quiz: “Discover Your Procrastinator Personality!”

Do you often find yourself procrastinating, putting off tasks, or struggling to complete assignments on time? Well, you’re not alone! Procrastination is a common challenge many of us face. The good news is that understanding your procrastinator personality type can provide valuable insights into your habits and help you find effective solutions. 

In this test, we will look at the six different types of procrastinators: the Perfectionist, the Dreamer, the Worrier, the Defier, the Crisis-Maker, and the Over-doer, developed by Dr. Linda Sapadin, which we discussed a bit earlier. Dr. Sapadin is a psychologist, author, and success coach who has written six self-help books on overcoming anxiety and procrastination. Indiana University strongly supports her classification of procrastinators.

So, let’s dive in and discover which procrastinator type best describes you. It’s an opportunity to gain self-awareness and find strategies to conquer procrastination once and for all. Let’s get started!

Instructions: Answer the following 10 questions to reveal your procrastinator personality type. Choose the option that best suits your behavior or preference.

Academic Procrastination: The Roadblock to Success

Academic procrastination, a common issue among students, is described as the persistent proclivity to postpone academic duties despite their value in the learning process. This behavior is characterized by the persistent postponing of key activities such as finishing assignments, studying for examinations, or fully engaging in school. Academic procrastination has far-reaching implications that go beyond temporary delays; it casts a pall over scholastic progress and prospective achievement.

With its set deadlines and demands, the academic domain is frequently the area in which the impacts of procrastination are felt most strongly. Failure to complete priority assignments that are critical to information acquisition and skill development has serious consequences. Students face these consequences every time they resort to procrastination and receive, at best, a failing grade.

Kim and Seo (2015) discovered a harmful link between academic procrastination and GPA in a meta-analysis, demonstrating that higher degrees of procrastination are related to worse grades.

Causes of educational procrastination:

  1. Task difficulty. According to research, learners are more inclined to delay things that they consider to be complex or difficult. Fear of dealing with difficult ideas or concepts might lead to procrastination.
  2. The fear of failing. The anxiety of failing to meet expectations or underperforming might considerably contribute to academic procrastination. The fear of failure serves as a powerful motivator for deferring chores.
  3. The absence of interest. Students are more inclined to postpone when they find a subject dull or uninspired. A lack of interest in the issue reduces the motivation to participate in academic tasks as soon as possible.


Academic procrastination starts a vicious circle that harms both performance and mental health:

  • Temporary respite. Procrastination initially gives a sense of relaxation, allowing children to engage in more immediately rewarding pursuits. This respite, however, is fleeting and is followed by an increasing sensation of impending chores.
  • Raised stress levels. The accumulating workload increases stress levels as deadlines are near. The understanding that duties have been postponed adds unnecessary stress, negatively hurting general mental well-being.
  • Poor performance. Academic performance diminishes as a result of the hurried, last-minute attempts that procrastination frequently causes. This has a detrimental influence on performance and learning outcomes.

Academic procrastination is a substantial barrier to students’ academic progress and achievement. Understanding the deeper causes, the harmful cycle it starts, and tips to avoid procrastination might enable students to take preventive solutions.

How to Stop Procrastinating: Strategies for Breaking Free

Overcoming procrastination requires a strategic approach that rewires habitual tendencies and creates new pathways to productivity. This section presents a toolkit of actionable strategies, each designed to chip away at the stronghold of procrastination.

Structured time management for beating procrastination

  • Making timetables. Make a timetable to create a visual roadmap of your day. Set up certain time periods for chores to ensure a healthy mix of academic commitments and personal hobbies. This methodical technique reduces the attraction of falling into the traps of procrastination.

Here’s an example of how you could structure your day:

Structured time management timetable to stop procrastinating

Morning (8:00 AM – 12:00 PM):

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM: Morning routine (stretching, hygiene)

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM: Studies (focus on a specific subject or topic)

9:30 AM – 9:45 AM: Short break (relax, stretch, etc.)

9:45 AM – 10:45 AM: Chores (tidy up, laundry)

10:45 AM – 11:15 AM: Creative time (a personal hobby: painting, writing)

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Studies (continue academic work)

Afternoon (12:00 PM – 2:00 PM):

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM: Lunch break

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM: Studies (a different subject or task)

1:30 PM – 2:00 PM: Short break and refresh

Afternoon (2:00 PM – 5:00 PM):

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM: Project work (break down the major assignment into smaller pieces)

3:30 PM – 3:45 PM: Short break

3:45 PM – 4:45 PM: Physical activity (exercise, walking)

4:45 PM – 5:00 PM: Assessing and arranging things for the next day

Evening (5:00 PM – 9:00 PM):

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM: Free time (relax, socialize)

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Dinner and break

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Studies (focus on revision or practice)

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Relaxation time (read, watch a movie, etc.)

Night (9:00 PM – 10:00 PM):

9:00 PM – 9:30 PM: Wind down (meditation, light reading)

9:30 PM – 10:00 PM: Prepare for bed

  • Setting attainable objectives. Divide huge projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. This not only improves concentration but also creates a sense of success as you complete each subtask. Achieving these goals helps increase one’s motivation to keep going and avoid procrastinating.
  • Using time-blocking strategies. Divide your day into different time blocks, each of which will be devoted to a different job or topic. This strategy harnesses the power of concentrated task completion to stop procrastinating.

overcome procrastination

Reliable algorithms for task management 

  • The two-minute rule. If a task can be performed in a brief period of time, such as two minutes, do it right away. This simple rule prevents minor tasks from accumulating and creating a mental burden.
  • The five-minute rule. When faced with a task you’re hesitant to begin, commit to engaging with it for just five minutes. Often, the initial hurdle is the most significant. Once you start, momentum kicks in.
  • The priority pyramid. Sort assignments according to their deadlines and significance. This helps you prioritize effectively, channeling energy into tasks that align with your goals.
  • The Eisenhower Matrix. Separate assignments into four categories: pressing and significant, significant but not pressing, pressing but not significant, and neither pressing nor significant. Using this system, you can effectively “sort” tasks according to the need and criticality of execution.

procrastination_ eisenhower matrix

  • The Pomodoro technique. One of the ways to stop procrastinating is to work in focused increments, typically 25 minutes, followed by a short break. This strategy relies on concentrated work and reduces feelings of overload.

Anti-procrastination mindset shift and self-discipline 

The cultivation of a productive mindset and the nurturing of self-discipline form the bedrock of effective procrastination management.

  • Embrace a growth mindset. View challenges as opportunities for growth rather than as unconquerable obstacles. This shift in perspective encourages resilience in the face of difficulties.
  • Cultivate self-discipline. Establish boundaries to minimize distractions. Embrace delayed gratification by focusing on the long-term benefits of task completion.

Rewards, consequences, and habit formation to stop procrastinating

Reprogramming your behavior requires a combination of positive reinforcement and accountability.

  • Ways to stop procrastinating: Rewards incorporation. Attach rewards to task completion to create positive associations. These rewards can range from a leisure activity to a favorite snack.
  • Designate consequences. Establish “penalties” for missing deadlines. These measures will act as deterrents to overcome procrastination.
  • Habit formation. Incorporate these strategies consistently to transform them into habits. Over time, these intentional actions become ingrained behaviors that counteract procrastination.

By employing these strategies, you’re equipping yourself with a diverse arsenal with which to battle procrastination. The journey to reclaiming your time and boosting your productivity requires diligence.

Bottom Line

Procrastination is a huge issue that affects hundreds of millions of people all over the world. As our comprehension of its negative consequences grows, it becomes increasingly evident that opposing this behavior is not an option — it is a need. With the alarming frequency of procrastination among both adults and students, the importance of tackling this issue cannot be overstated.

Overcoming procrastination demands constant effort, self-awareness, and patience. The miracle won’t happen overnight, and unfortunately, it won’t happen in a week, either. Only by working hard on yourself and implementing the above tactics will you be able to walk the thorny anti-procrastination path and win the battle.

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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.