It’s the night before your paper is due and you haven’t even started. You tell yourself you’ll start in the morning, but the morning comes and you hit the snooze button instead. You’re not alone. More than 80% of college students admit to procrastinating on their assignments.
Why do we procrastinate?
There are a number of theories. One is that we are wired for it. Studies on procrastination have found that it’s associated with a dopamine deficiency in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that helps us feel pleasure and motivation. So, when we don’t have enough of it, we don’t feel motivated to do the things we need to do.
Another theory is that we procrastinate because we’re afraid of failure. We’d rather not start something if we don’t think we’ll be good at it. Or, we tell ourselves we’ll do it later because we’re not sure we can do it well right now.
Whatever the reason, procrastination can have serious consequences. It can lead to lower grades, missed deadlines, and even job loss.
So, what can you do about it?
First, recognize that you’re procrastinating. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to spot. Pay attention to how you’re feeling when you sit down to work on a task. Are you feeling anxious or overwhelmed? If so, those may be signs that you’re about to start procrastinating.
Once you’ve identified that you’re procrastinating, try to understand why. Are you afraid of failure? Do you feel like you don’t have enough time? Is the task too difficult? Once you know the reason, you can start to find a solution.
If you’re afraid of failure, for example, remind yourself that everyone fails sometimes. It’s okay to not be perfect. And, if you don’t start, you’re guaranteed to fail.
If you don’t have enough time, try breaking the task into smaller pieces. You don’t have to do everything at once. Just focus on taking the first step.
If the task is too difficult, ask for help. Talk to your professor or a tutor. They can give you advice on how to approach the task.
Finally, make a plan. Once you know why you’re procrastinating, you can make a plan to avoid it in the future. For example, if you know you’re going to procrastinate on your paper, set a deadline for yourself that’s a few days before the actual due date. That way, you’ll have time to fix any mistakes.
Or, if you know you’re going to procrastinate on your workout, set a time for it and put it in your schedule. Then, commit to it like you would any other appointment.
Procrastination is a common problem, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. By understanding why you procrastinate and making a plan to avoid it, you can take control of your time and your life.