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The procrastination trap: How to recognise and overcome it in student life

Written by Pranay Chouhan

Procrastination is one such problem that every student faces today in their academic journey. While the negative impact of procrastination is widely acknowledged among students, the understanding of what it entails remains limited for many. Students often confuse the term procrastination with laziness but in truth, it is an active process where a student or an individual willingly chooses to do something else except for the task the student is assigned or should be doing. Some recent estimates show that around (80 to 95%) of college students engage in procrastination and around 50% procrastinate consistently and problematically. 

Reasons why students procrastinate

Exam Pressure: Most students find themselves procrastinating when exams are around the corner. According to a study by the Biomedical and Biotechnology Research Journal (BBRJ), around 38.8% of students procrastinate while they are studying for their board exams. Extreme stress, fear or anxiety can completely overwhelm and hijack a part of the brain (cerebral cortex) which is responsible for planning, learning and doing other activities. 

Not Knowing What to Begin With: Whenever an exam or an assignment is near many students get overwhelmed with the pressure and feel lost and don’t know where to start. This leads them to put off studying or the project until the deadline is so close that their worry about not knowing the “right” place to start is overshadowed by their fear of not having enough time to complete the work or study for it.

The Unwanted Distractions: Students getting distracted from their work is one of the most common types of problem which traps students into the loop of procrastination. Most of the common forms of distractions are social media, texts and messages and sometimes a student’s thoughts and doubts. 

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How to overcome the procrastination trap

Work One Step at a Time

One of the biggest reasons why students procrastinate is having an overload of work which causes them to have severe stress and fear. To overcome this issue, take small steps, for example, if you have an exam coming up, tell yourself to sit and study just for 25 minutes and then take a short break. In the beginning, it might feel like hours but eventually, it will keep getting better. Further, breaking down work into small segments can help improve your performance. This technique of studying or doing tasks is also called the Pomodoro technique. 

Work When You Feel the Most Productive

To come out of the loop of procrastination knowing when you work the best is important. Whether you are studying for an exam or completing a task, connecting with it is extremely important. Unless and until you don’t connect with your work you will not be able to do it efficiently. Listen to your body and see when you are active the most and accordingly schedule all your tasks and study sessions. 

Overcome the Surrounding Distractions

With smartphones coming into play students get distracted very easily, leading to hours of procrastination. To overcome this, the first thing you can do is turn off unnecessary notifications when you sit to study. Constant alerts from social media, messaging apps, or email can interrupt your concentration and lead to procrastination. You can also opt for apps or features that temporarily block notifications. 

ALSO READ | Effective techniques to stop procrastinating (plus, tips to deal with a procrastinator)

The loop of procrastination is very common among school and college students. Different students procrastinate for different reasons which can often lead to worse grades or lower well-being. But by following the above tips a student can successfully create an environment which will support them to focus and concentrate better. Staying disciplined while studying not only enhances a student’s performance but also builds a valuable habit that will help them in future. 

(Pranay Chouhan is the co-founder of Padhle EdTech)

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