Almost every student has experienced the stress of working feverishly at the last minute to meet a deadline while simultaneously berating themselves for not starting the task earlier. Unfortunately, this pattern repeats itself, leading to detrimental effects on both their physical and mental well-being. Procrastination is a term rooted in Latin, with “Pro” meaning in favor of and “crastinus” indicating tomorrow. It refers to the tendency to delay or avoid completing a task that needs to be done.

While there is a clear consensus on the definition of procrastination after years of research, the underlying reasons for this behavior are only beginning to come to light. Some attribute it to bad study habits, while others believe it is connected to more intrinsic qualities, such as low self-esteem.

Why Procrastinate?

There isn’t a single answer to why students procrastinate, and researchers have struggled to reach a consensus. There are numerous reasons why students procrastinate. One of the main reasons is fear of failure, as students often worry about not achieving the desired grades and avoiding challenging tasks. This can lead to stress and anxiety, resulting in procrastination.

Low self-efficacy is another factor where students doubt their ability to perform a task well and view themselves negatively. Such individuals are more likely to procrastinate to protect their self-presentation and provide an excuse for poor performance.

Moreover, poor time management is another reason why students procrastinate. Students often underestimate the time required to complete a task, leading to last-minute work and missed deadlines. This is the Planning Fallacy, which can significantly cause students’ procrastination. In this article, we will look at why students procrastinate and how to overcome procrastination.



It is essential first to understand why you procrastinate and the function procrastination serves in your life. Without this understanding, finding a practical solution is complex. Self-awareness is key to solving the problem of procrastination. For most students, gaining insight into how procrastination protects them from feeling inadequate can help them resist the temptation to fall into unproductive habits.

Time Management Techniques

Time management tools and techniques are essential for overcoming procrastination, but they are insufficient. Some time management techniques are better suited to dealing with procrastination than others. Techniques that reduce anxiety and emphasize the satisfaction and rewards of completing tasks work best. Inflexible techniques emphasizing the magnitude of tasks and increased anxiety can worsen procrastination. To avoid this, it’s better to set reasonable goals, break big tasks down, and reward yourself with things you enjoy after completing work.

Find Productive Reasons for Engaging in Tasks

Productive reasons lead to positive, satisfying feelings and actions, unlike engaging in tasks out of fear, obligation, or comparison. Setting and focusing on personal goals can help put positive motives in motion. Remember that other people’s goals for you are not goals but obligations.

Stay Actively Engaged

Being passive in class can weaken your motivation and hinder your understanding of what’s being taught. To prevent this, try to find what’s exciting and relevant to you in the course materials, set your purpose for every reading and class session, and ask yourself and others questions about your learning. By actively engaging with the material, you will find it more engaging and be more motivated to learn.

Complete Important Tasks First

It is also important to leave enough time for completing essential tasks. Starting tasks early enough will help you address potential issues and reduce the stress associated with assignments, which can lead to a procrastination cycle. Also, block out potential distractions since they lead to loss of time and energy. You can also use restrictive software such as StayFocused to block certain websites during study time and stay focused on the task.

Just Start

Don’t overthink it; start. Committing at least three minutes to start a task can create momentum and help you keep working on it.

Break Down Tasks

Breaking down big tasks into smaller ones is a valuable approach, but there is a variation that can also be effective. This involves dedicating short periods to the task and accomplishing as much as possible without putting too much pressure on yourself to complete everything. For instance, you could spend ten minutes brainstorming ideas for a paper or scanning a lengthy reading to extract the main points. By repeating this process multiple times, you will make progress on the task, build momentum, and reduce the workload, making it less daunting. Creating small openings in the task becomes easier to complete as you have already overcome some barriers and taken the first steps towards finishing it.

Bottom Line

Procrastination is complex, and its causes vary from student to student. These strategies can change your self-handicapping behavior and form new, healthy study habits.

We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Don’t forget to comment below and let us know how you set up an effective study schedule.