The first week of March is Procrastination Awareness Week. The first step in helping students overcome procrastination is awareness that they procrastinate and an understanding as to why they do. We all do it. In fact, research shows that between 80%-95% of college students procrastinate on their school work. High school students are equally guilty of procrastination. Unfortunately, procrastination can cause major health problems including headaches, digestive issues and more. So, how can we help students develop the awareness they need to overcome procrastination? The first step is understanding.
Reasons Students Procrastinate
Procrastination is a result of mistaken beliefs. Three of the most common mistaken beliefs are:
I’ll do it later. The problem is, too often, later never comes. Students put off work until they set themselves up for the other two mistaken beliefs.
It’s hopeless. Either they haven’t given themselves enough time, or stress-related illnesses have kicked in to complicate the job. Either way, few things are truly hopeless and by taking the first step, hopelessness may fall away and students may be able to tackle the job.
I’m not smart enough. Sometimes procrastination is a way to avoid our deepest fears. It’s one thing to not be able to finish because we ran out of time—it’s another to find out we’re not capable. However, by beginning a task immediately, students can give themselves enough time to research answers or get the help they need to succeed.
Becoming Aware of Procrastination is Step One
Let students make a list of the last five or ten times that they procrastinated. Next, have them write a 1, 2, or 3 beside each incident to note why they procrastinated. Did they promise themselves to do it later? Did it feel hopeless? Was there some underlying fear of inadequacy?
By looking at the numbers, students will be able to see a pattern in their behavior.
Finally, group students by their numbers and allow them to brainstorm ideas to stop their procrastination. Allow each group to share their ideas while you create a “Tool Box” of techniques to overcome procrastination.
Download “Why We Procrastinate” for Free!
Continue the lesson on procrastination by downloading the free 3-page lesson here. Students can explore more mistaken beliefs that lead to procrastination, quiz themselves on their understanding and examine past behaviors to create additional avoidance-busting tools.
If you like what you see, other lesson in “Time Management” address Murphy’s Law, goal setting, scheduling and prioritizing and are available here. Books are written on a 3rd/4th grade level and include grading sheets, answer keys and parent information letters to comply with federal standards for transition skills. The Teacher’s Manual (sold separately) provides information on program set-up and maintenance along with written ITP (Individual Transition Plan) goals for each book.
Piers Steel, PhD. Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 1, University of Calgary, 2007. Accessed 2/23/2018
Timothy A. Pychyl, PhD. “I’ll Look After My Heath Later: The Costs of Procrastination.” Psychology Today. Posted April 16, 2008.