Stop procrastinating! How breaking the habit can help your study and wellbeing
How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.
– Fred Brooks
Do you put the ‘pro’ in procrastinator? It’s a common habit many of us can fall into – we put off doing something important like an assignment, often by finding something else to do. This creates a lot of stress because the task still needs to be done, but you risk running out of time. So, when you finally complete the task, it’s far from your best work.
As well as making your uni assignments more stressful, procrastinating can also affect your mental health. But never fear! There’s some simple things you can do to stop procrastinating.
Why people procrastinate
Procrastination is rarely about laziness or time management. It’s more likely to be due to:
- not feeling motivated in your course
- believing the task is too difficult, big or boring
- fear of failure.
So procrastination is actually closely linked to how you feel about work and/or yourself.
How you can stop procrastinating
Procrastination is an active process – you’re choosing to do something else instead of your work. You need to recognise that you’re doing it, and remember that the reward and relief of finishing an assignment you’re proud of will feel way better than the quick fix you get from procrastinating.
Here’s some simple and practical ways to focus on your study:
- Start right now – once you get the ball rolling, it’s much easier to return to something that you’ve already started. It can also help to tackle the least pleasant aspects first, so you get them out of the way early.
- Set realistic or SMART goals – don’t attempt to do a whole assignment in one night. Break down your work into smaller, more achievable tasks, and try to complete them one at a time.
- Ask someone to check up on you – feeling accountable to someone else can help you stay focused. You could also try a self-monitoring app like Procraster.
- Minimise distractions – turn off your phone, avoid checking email and ignore the temptation to monitor your social media feeds.
- Reward yourself – do something you love after completing each task (instead of doing it beforehand).
- Plan ahead – mark dates and times for study in your diary or use our online study planner.
Where to get more help
The below services are free and available to all Deakin students:
- Make a Zoom appointment with a Deakin Language and Learning Adviser to discuss your approach to work and learn how to complete your assignments on time.
- If you continue to struggle with procrastination, have a confidential chat with one of our student mental health experts from Deakin’s Counselling and Psychological Support (CAPS) service. For a real-time telehealth appointment, book online or call your local Deakin Health and Wellbeing Centre.