Procrastination is a crutch we’ve all used while traveling down the winding path that we call life. Most of us have also stumbled upon the problems that arise when we choose to delay or put off completing important tasks. Achievement of one’s full personal potential is not an option if a habitual pattern of procrastination develops. If students regularly procrastinate when it comes to schoolwork, only trouble lies ahead. Simply put, if students do not devote enough time and energy to academic tasks, feelings of stress and angst will develop. Some students can get by on intellectual ability only while procrastinating their whole way through high school; but the turmoil associated with procrastination will mount and eventually surface in college or career. Procrastination is especially prevalent among high school freshmen because they are introduced to new and more difficult curricula. Let’s take a look at why students procrastinate when it comes to schoolwork and talk about how students can avoid procrastination. It is very important that this potential stressor not enter the fray of adolescence.

Fear of Failure

If you took a poll, I would assume most people would say that students procrastinate because they are simply lazy and don’t want to do their schoolwork. While that is true for some students, most procrastination comes from a fear of failure. When faced with a task, students wonder “What if I do it wrong?” or “What if I don’t know how to do it?”. The obvious reaction to these thoughts is to put off facing the fears associated with schoolwork. Whether students are ill-prepared or lack the skills necessary to successfully complete academic tasks, both causes lead to feelings of fear. This fear causes students to delay the completion of schoolwork until the last possible minute, leading to academic failure, or, mediocrity at best. Lack of confidence = Lack of motivation. Students MUST have the confidence and knowledge to create a plan and execute the plan when attacking schoolwork. Students that are prepared and confident have a diminished urge to procrastinate.

How to Avoid Procrastination

Develop Executive Functioning Skills

  • Self-Evaluation- discover the most effective learning style for you by identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Which strategies work best for you?
  • Goal Setting- Set clear and achievable goals, then measure your success to determine the effectiveness of the learning strategy used. Learn how to overcome obstacles by changing up your strategy for success.
  • Planning and Organization- learn how to assess a situation, devise a plan, and execute the plan. Manage time effectively by using planners, assignment tracking sheets, and calendars. Use daily, weekly, and monthly calendars to plot all assignments, then create a plan to accomplish each task.

Improve Study Habits

  • Get Help- If you do not understand certain material or concepts, immediately seek help from a teacher, parent, tutor, or classmate.
  • Find a Good Study Place- study in an area with plenty of room for all of your learning materials, and make sure it is a space that is void of distractions like electronics, food, or other people.
  • Eliminate Distractions- put your phone away so you are not tempted to constantly look at it. This goes for all electronics!
  • Start with Your Planner- It is important to devise a plan of attack for your studying. Decide which specific tasks need to be completed during the current study session in order for you to stay on schedule as a whole.
  • Tackle Your Most Difficult Assignment First- once this assignment is complete, you will have confidence to complete the less difficult assignments. The rest of your studying will be easier and will go quicker.
  • Break Tasks Down into Chunks- don’t take on too much information at one time, we all have attention span limits. Make sure you give yourself short breaks to ensure memory retention and to avoid burnout.
  • Stick to Your Plan- mark off the tasks on your calendars as you complete them.

If sufficient time and energy are spent on academic tasks, students have a greater chance of achieving academic success. The moment that students realize that a responsible approach to studying is successful, worry and fear dissapear. Success leads to confidence, which leads to motivation, which leads to the elimination of procrastination.