At some time or another everyone procrastinates; it’s a natural, if frustrating, part of human behaviour.  For many people procrastination is something that pops up every once in a while, whilst for others it forms a regular part of life, disrupting work and leisure time, and hindering us from achieving our goals.  It can also make us feel guilty and down as a result.

Take a look at our decision tree to get an overview of some of the causes behind procrastination, and offer tips on dealing with it.

One of the important things to remember is that our responses to that feeling of procrastination can be changed.  There are lots of things that you can do to change your behaviour when you feel as though you might procrastinate.  Here are some of our tips:

  1. Recognise your procrastination cycle by recording how you feel when it happens and how you behave (e.g. watching television or using social media instead of working).
  2. Identify your distractions and take action.  One way to do this is to use an activity tracker such as RescueTime.
  3. Examine the environment that you normally work in.  Is it feeding your procrastination? Working in a different space can mean that you approach your work without those feelings creeping in.  Think about where you would like to work, how much light you need, what kind of posture and seating promotes concentration.
  4. Consider getting a study buddy. This can be really helpful if you want to use a bit of peer pressure to focus on your work.  Working alongside someone else with the same goals (although they might not be studying your subject), can be encouraging and reassuring.  It’s important to remember not to compare your progress however, as this can lead to feelings of failure if one of you seems to be achieving more than the other.
  5. If you’re worried about the work you need to do, and you have questions about it, make sure that you contact someone in your department to discuss this.  The sooner you get those questions resolved, the quicker you can get on with the work.

Want to find out more?  We recommend the brilliant iProcrastinate Podcast, presented by Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl, associate professor of psychology and director of the Procrastination Research Group (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Do you have any tips of your own? We’d love you to share them in the comments section below.