Avoiding Procrastination

Why students procrastinate and how to overcome the habit

We've all been there, avoiding that major midterm assignment, or putting off that research paper until the last minute. To better understand and overcome this negative study habit, follow the guidelines in this handout.

First, we need to address exactly what causes procrastination. A few common causes are:

Lack of Motivation: Many students simply just do not feel like doing their assignments. A negative outlook and attitude towards an assignment can cause it to get put off until the last possible minute.

Poor Time Management: Once a project is assigned, many students become overwhelmed and do not grasp a concept of how long a certain assignment may take to complete. Being overwhelmed may cause the assignment to get put off as long as possible, which will result in much wasted time.

Not Knowing Where To Start: When a project gets assigned, students get so caught up in the due dates, objectives, and demands that they become lost and avoid tackling the assignment as long as possible.

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How To Kick The Habit

Now that we know the main causes of procrastination, here are a few ways to overcome this negative study habit and apply proactive habits into your studies and assignments.

1.Identify self-defeating habits. Habits such as laziness, negative attitude, or avoidance are very common when it comes to schoolwork. Once these habits are recognized, dwell only on how to positively approach the assignment to help motivate yourself to get it done.

2. Manage your time wisely. Mark the project due date on your calendar and assess how long it will take to accomplish. Once that is done, look at the project itself and determine what timeframe you will need to work with to finish the assignment. This will help you set a realistic timeframe and motivate you to get things started and finished in a timely manor.

3. Break tasks down into smaller pieces. Break down the assignment into blocks so that it is not as overwhelming. You can do this by creating a "To Do" list to identify the tasks that need to be done. This way you will have a solid starting point and you can manage what you focus on to get the project done more efficiently.

For more information:

The following websites provide even more information on how to avoid procrastination:

Oregon State University Academic Success Center:


University at Buffalo Edwards Learning Center:


Study Guides and Strategies: