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At one time or another, we all procrastinate and it is okay if we procrastinate once in a while but it becomes a problem if we fall into the vicious cycle.

College students are not immune to procrastination. So, why college students procrastinate? Some reasons for procrastination are fear of failure, impulsiveness, etc.

Definition of Procrastination

a bored young woman - why college students procrastinate

It’s 10 p.m. and your college paper is due tomorrow. But instead of working on the paper, you’re scrolling through social media, watching TV, or talking on the phone with friends. You’re not alone—most college students procrastinate.

But what exactly is procrastination? Merriam-Webster defines it as “to put off doing something : to delay taking action.” So why do we do it?

There are a number of reasons: fear of failure, Perfectionism, low self-confidence, and impulsiveness, to name a few. We’ll explore each of these in more depth below.

How Common Is Student Procrastination?

According to a recent survey, 65% of college students admit to procrastinating on their coursework.

Of those surveyed, 22% said they always procrastinate, while 43% said they sometimes procrastinate.

This means that nearly two-thirds of college students are putting off their work, at least sometimes.

Procrastination can be seen in all stages of student life including elementary school, middle school, high school, etc.

Procrastination is extremely common in students and the tendency to delay something until right before is termed as student syndrome.

There are a number of reasons why students might procrastinate. For one, college can be overwhelming.

There are often multiple deadlines and assignments due at the same time. It can be difficult to know where to start, or even what to do first.

Additionally, many students struggle with perfectionism. They want their work to be perfect and they become paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes.

Reasons Why We Procrastinate

a woman laying on her bed and scrolling her phone

There are a number of reasons why we procrastinate. One reason is that we procrastinate because we’re afraid of failure.

We don’t want to fail, so we put off doing the things that might lead to failure.

Another reason is that we procrastinate because we’re perfectionists.

They may be afraid of not doing an assignment perfectly, so they put it off until they have more time to work on it.

This can often backfire, as the student ends up with even less time to complete the assignment and ends up feeling even more stressed.

A third reason is that we procrastinate because we don’t know how to get started.

This is especially true for big projects that seem overwhelming. We don’t know where to start, so we put off starting at all.

Some say that it is due to a lack of motivation, while others believe that it is a form of self-sabotage.

Another reason is that procrastination is simply a result of poor time-management skills.

College students are often juggling multiple classes, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs, and it can be difficult to manage everything effectively.

This can lead to putting off assignments until the last minute.

Some say even lack of urgency causes procrastination among college students.

College students usually have no deadlines, so they can wait until a few minutes before the deadline to start working on an assignment.

Finally, some people believe that we procrastinate because it’s a way of coping with anxiety.

By putting off the things that make us anxious, we can avoid feeling anxious in the moment.

Related Disorders of Procrastination

There are a few related disorders that can cause procrastination. One is called attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

People with ADHD have trouble focusing and may be easily distracted. This can make it hard to start and finish tasks.

Another related disorder is anxiety. People with anxiety may worry about doing things perfectly or may feel like they can’t do something at all. This can also lead to procrastination.

Finally, depression can cause people to lose interest in activities and feel like nothing matters. This can make it hard to get started on anything.

Negative Consequences of Procrastination

woman sleeping on her bed with a phone and clock on her sidetable

There are several negative consequences associated with procrastination.

For one, procrastination can lead to poor grades. When students put off studying for exams or writing papers, they often do not have enough time to adequately prepare, leading to lower grades.

In addition, procrastination can lead to missed deadlines and lost opportunities.

If a student procrastinates on an assignment, they may miss the deadline and receive a lower grade as a result.

Finally, procrastination can be detrimental to one’s mental health.

When people constantly put off tasks, they can become overwhelmed and stressed, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

How to Overcome Procrastination

a woman taking a break from work - why college students procrastinate

It’s the night before your paper is due and you have done nothing.

You tell yourself you will start in just a minute, but then you get distracted by social media, your favorite TV show, or anything else that isn’t related to schoolwork.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. A study by Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University found that 20% of people are chronic procrastinators.

That means they regularly put off important tasks for no good reason. So, how do we stop this?

There are multiple ways to stop procrastination which are briefly described below:

Have a Support Circle

One way to combat procrastination is to have a support circle. This can be a group of friends or classmates who you can rely on to help you stay on track.

They can hold you accountable for meeting deadlines and help you stay motivated when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Having a support circle is especially important during finals week.

This is when the pressure is really on and it’s easy to fall behind.

Having people to lean on will make it easier to get through this stressful time.

So if you’re struggling with procrastination, reach out to your friends and ask them to be your support system.

Improve Time Management Skills

Many college students find themselves struggling with managing their time efficiently.

There are a number of reasons why this occurs, but the good news is that there are also a number of ways to improve time management skills.

One common reason for poor time management is that college students often have too many things on their plate.

In addition to attending classes and studying, they may also be working a part-time job, participating in extracurricular activities, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life.

Fortunately, there are some steps that college students can take to start improving their time management skills.

One of the most important is learning to create a schedule and stick to it.

Another important step is to be realistic about how much time you have and how much time you need to accomplish the tasks that must be done.

The most common problem among college students is that they try to do too much at once, which leads to stress and poor time management skills.

Reduce Distractions

There’s no question that college students today are more distracted than ever before.

With social media, streaming services, and constant notifications, it’s hard to focus on anything for more than a few minutes.

And while some students are able to power through and get their work done despite the distractions, others find themselves procrastinating more and more.

No matter how hard it sounds, but turn off your tv and keep your phone on silent mode when you are studying for your test or finishing your assignments.

In this way, you can focus fully on your work and can complete it with fewer errors and quickly too!

Make it a habit of staying away from things that distract you from your studies.

Plan Your Day Ahead

One of the best ways to avoid procrastination is to plan your day ahead.

By taking a few minutes at the beginning of the day to map out what you need to do, you can avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and reduce the temptation to put things off.

Start by making a list of everything you need to do in the next 24 hours. Then, rank those items in order of importance.

Once you have your list, take a few minutes to schedule when you will complete each task.

If possible, break larger tasks into smaller steps that you can complete over a period of time.

Be Realistic

When it comes to college students and procrastination, being realistic is key.

If you’re realistic about your workload and what you can accomplish in a day, you’re less likely to procrastinate.

That’s because when you have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, you’re more likely to get started on it right away.

Of course, being realistic isn’t always easy. College students are often juggling multiple classes, extracurricular activities, and social life.

It can be tempting to put off doing homework or studying for exams because there’s just so much going on.

But if you take the time to sit down and map out what needs to be done each day, you’ll find that it’s not as overwhelming as it seems.

Give a Gift to Yourself for Not Procrastinating

Whatever the reason for your procrastination, there’s one thing you can do to help yourself: give yourself a gift for not procrastinating.

For example, you could give yourself a new book to read, a day at the spa, or a night out with friends.

Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you really want and that will help you relax and enjoy your free time.

Giving yourself a reward for not procrastinating will help you stay motivated to keep working on your projects.

Forgive Yourself for Procrastinating

It’s easy to beat yourself up for putting things off, but there’s no need. Procrastination is a perfectly normal part of the human condition. We all do it, and we all feel guilty about it from time to time.

The key is to not let the guilt get to you. Forgive yourself for procrastinating and move on.

It’s okay to be imperfect. We all are. Just remember that taking action is always better than inaction.

So go ahead and give yourself a break. You deserve it!

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