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College Success Skills: Procrastination

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Inside the mind of a master procrastinator 

Procrastination - 7 Steps to Cure

The ONLY way to stop procrastinating 

About Procrastination 

Procrastination is an obstacle for every college student, and we all procrastinate from time-to-time on certain tasks. The key is for procrastination not to become a routine part of your academic life. When it does, it can create a “snowball effect” where work and deadlines pile up and pick up speed as the term progresses. It can end up putting you in a worse position than you would have been if you had made time to complete the task.


In order to help you avoid procrastination, follow these Keys to Success:


1. Avoid unhelpful self-talk. We often find ourselves in a procrastination cycle because we talked ourselves into it. Repeating things like “I’m busy,” “I don’t have time,” and “I work better under pressure” are all ways that we talk ourselves into procrastinating. If you hear yourself saying these types of phrases, you should replace them with positive self-talk: “I can do this,” “I can make time,” and “I need resources and assistance.”

2. Name the problem. Procrastination is often a symptom of a problem rather than a problem itself. Get to the heart of the situation by asking yourself: why am I procrastinating, what tasks am I procrastinating on, and what things am I using to procrastinate with? These questions will bring you to what is causing the procrastination and will reveal what you need to do (or avoid!) to fix it!

3. Break down projects. Sometimes, we procrastinate because we are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or anxious. Looking at an entire project can be daunting, and you can feel that you are a long way away from finishing it. Instead of looking at the entire course or project, break the course or project into smaller actionable tasks and focus on immediate next steps. Once you complete a step, it is okay to give yourself a small break or reward before starting on the next one.  

4. Minimize distractions. It’s easy to get distracted when working on a task that we have little interest or motivation to complete. In these cases, we need to find ways to unplug from things that want to pull our attention away. If working on your computer, avoid websites that may be distracting. If you can’t stop yourself, download an app that will block them. If your workspace is distracting, find a new place where you can work quietly and comfortably.   

Before you do anything, consider this:

1. Make sure you understand the assignment.

Immediately ask questions or contact the professor. If you don't understand, you are likely to procrastinate.


2. Start with a topic you are interested in, if possible.

If you have flexibility in your topic, it is always better to choose a topic of interest. A boring topic gives you reason to procrastinate.


3. Avoid selecting a topic that is too obscure or unique (unless you are writing your dissertation).

For your average undergraduate paper, topics that are too obscure can be difficult to find supportive information. That makes it more difficult, therefore more stressful, and creates a greater likelihood to procrastinate.

Check out these books!

Steps to Completing Your Research Assignment 

1. Immediately speak to a librarian if the assignment requires research.

Research can be scary. Make your life easier by immediately speaking to a librarian (in-person, Chat, Zoom). They can make sure you are in the right database(s) with the right queries (not too broad, not too obscure) to find the right material.

2. After speaking to a librarian, immediately review abstracts for likely material, and then download or interlibrary loan the items. 

It seems like the vital article you want is the one that needs to be requested from another library, which means an interlibrary loan (ILL) request. That means time spent processing that request. Order early so you have the materials when you are ready to begin.

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