Time Management/Resources/Overcoming Procrastination

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The pitfalls of managing time

To a great extent, avoiding pitfalls amounts to avoiding procrastination and time wasters, as well as ways to make study time more effective and efficient. Five important things to remember for more effective use of your time are:

  • Concentrate on one thing at a time. Pay attention to your attention. Keep a note pad next to you while studying to jot down random thoughts that interfere with your studying. Get them out of your mind and onto a sheet of paper so that you can refocus on studying.
  • Study difficult or boring subjects first while you are still fresh and get this "chore" out of the way to make the rest of the day easier for yourself.
  • Be active in what you are doing at the time. Study where you will be alert. Do not study where you sleep and avoid soft chairs and sofas. You need ENERGY, not relaxation.
  • Learn to say no. People understand that you need to study. Agree with living mates (roommates, parents, spouses, or kids) about study time. Have set times or a signal to indicate that you are studying and need to be left alone. Try using a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. Get off the phone. Do not use the phone as an excuse to not study. When studying, let the answering machine pick up your calls, or go study somewhere where there is no phone.
  • Do NOT procrastinate. Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task, which needs to be accomplished. This can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression, and self-doubt among students. Procrastination has a high potential for painful consequences. It interferes with the academic and personal success of students.

Why do students procrastinate?

There are many excuses why students don’t complete things on time. Listen here to hear some common ones.

Students procrastinate because of poor time management. Procrastination means not managing your time wisely. You may be uncertain of your priorities, goals, and objectives. You may also be overwhelmed with a task. As a result, you keep putting off your academic assignments to a later date.

Students also procrastinate because of personal problems, boring tasks, fear of failure, unrealistic expectations, and perfectionism. You may have difficulty concentrating and waste time daydreaming and staring into space instead of completing the task. You could be overwhelmed with the task and afraid of getting a failing grade. As a result, you spend a great deal of time worrying about your upcoming exams, papers and projects, rather than completing them.

Overcoming procrastination

  • Recognize self-defeating problems such as fear and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor time management, indecisiveness, and perfectionism.
  • Identify your personal goals, strengths, weaknesses, values, and priorities. Post your goals so that you are reminded of them daily.
  • Discipline yourself to use your time wisely. Set priorities and schedule how you plan to accomplish them.
  • Study in small time blocks instead of long time periods.
  • Take big jobs and break them into a series of small ones. For example, take a long reading assignment and break it up into several smaller ones.
  • Motivate yourself to study. Dwell on your successes, not failures.
  • Try to study in small groups so that others keep you motivated.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself to accomplish.
  • Modify your environment. Eliminate or minimize noise and distraction. Ensure adequate lighting and have necessary equipment and supplies available. Don't get too comfortable when studying.
  • Make sure your study area is neat.
  • Convince yourself that the task is worth doing, even if it's hard to get started
  • Be sure and set deadlines for yourself whenever possible and reward yourself by doing something you enjoy when you get things done as you had planned.

For more information about procrastination, you might find this site useful.


  • Marc Doesburg, Otago Polytechnic, 2006
  • David McQuillan, Otago Polytechnic, 2007

NOTE: This resource is based on an article produced by the Pennsylvania State University as such any re-use of this article is also bound by the license of the original work.