Dealing with procrastination

Almost everyone procrastinates sometimes. That is human nature. Moreover, a little loafing is not such a bad thing, but sometimes procrastination takes on chronic forms and can lead to stress and feelings of anxiety and gloom.
What is it?

You can think of procrastination as a way of dealing with discomfort or tension. You put off your coursework because it evokes resistance or discomfort and you go and do something else. In the short term, this seems pleasant and effective, because that bad feeling is gone, but when confronted with your postponed work, you become restless and tense. In the long run, the tension actually increases because the pile of work also increases. 

The consequences of procrastination can be that you may lose confidence in yourself and feelings of despondency may rear their head. Sometimes there is shame, because you are afraid that others will think you are lazy or a slacker, making it extra difficult to ask for help. 

Ambience photo Fontys

What can you do yourself? 

We can have all sorts of reasons to procrastinate. Check for yourself what stops you from doing the task. Don't like it or don't know how to tackle it? Do you want to do it too well and are afraid you won't succeed? Is it too much work?  

It makes sense to find out exactly where your procrastination comes from. Do you 'just don't feel like it' or is there more to it? Sometimes there is an underlying problem that can create tension, for instance perfectionism (setting the bar too high, making the task seem unworkable) or fear of failure.  


Sometimes it turns out that procrastination has become an ingrained habit. You were always a procrastinator and got away with it because you usually passed all the tests anyway. However, now you notice that you can no longer get away with it, for example because it is too much work to procrastinate until the last minute. You got stuck in your habit pattern and can't get out of it anymore. 

And practically?

After checking this for yourself, you can also go through the following conditions:  

  • Check your motivation and priorities: What do I want? Why do I want it and what am I willing to do for it? Have I chosen the right study? Am I prioritising my studies or do I have enough time to work on my studies quietly? After all, by comparison, if you want a six-pack, you should also be prepared to go to the gym five times a week for that. Take back control yourself and replace: 'I have to' with: 'I want to' or 'I choose to'.
  • Day structure: Create routine in your working days with time blocks to work on school as well as break times. Get enough sleep and a healthy diet so that you have enough energy to concentrate. And just as important: make sure you have a quiet place to study without many distractions.
  • Realistic planning: We tend to overestimate ourselves in how much we can do in a given time. Especially if we are already behind on work due to procrastination. Therefore, make a visual overview of your study tasks. Divide the big pile of work into small pieces. Then make a schedule for these pieces, with enough time. This planning should feel achievable to you. Does it turn out not to be feasible after all? Make a choice in what you do and don't do and adjust your planning accordingly. Better to finish 3 things well, than 4 things halfway. This also helps you learn to estimate how much time certain tasks will take.
  • Start small: Keep your stated goal or task manageable and small, so it is more likely to succeed (and less likely to fail). Most importantly, make a start so that there is movement. Start with half an hour a day and build up from there. The point is to make commitments with yourself that you can actually stick to, which will bring back confidence in yourself.
  • Be gentle with yourself‚Äč: Be aware of negative self-talk. Criticising yourself is counterproductive, as is looking back and balking that things didn't go well. Set your sights on the future and be a positive coach to yourself.
  • Deploy help lines: Don't hesitate to use helplines, email a teacher with a question, app a classmate for advice, study with a fellow student.
  • Unfortunately, there is no quick fix against procrastination, as you read. Therefore, make it discussable, talk to others about it (friends, parents, slb'er, classmates).