Overcoming Procrastination

  1. Take a hard look in the mirror.
    Procrastination cannot be changed unless you are able and willing to be honest with yourself about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which cause it.

  2. Assess your level of motivation to change.
    Overcoming procrastination takes work and is not always easy. If you aren’t motivated to change your current study habits, learning time management and other anti-procrastination techniques won’t be helpful. Think about what your goals are for being in college and what it will take for you to reach them (e.g., an additional 10 hours of study each week.) Do you have the motivation to do this extra work?

  3. Set small goals for yourself.
    Large goals will most likely lead to quick failure and frustration on your part. Setting small, achievable goals and holding yourself accountable for reaching them is the best way to change your study habits and overcome procrastination. A few small changes can quickly lead to large changes as you experience the rewards of reducing procrastination.

  4. Once small goals are achieved, think about setting larger goals.
    Goal-setting now becomes an ongoing process of setting goals, analyzing success and failure, and using this learning to set new goals. If you find yourself failing to reach your goals, try scaling them down. If you feel like you can’t scale them down any further, reflect on your level of motivation.

  5. Don’t get derailed by setbacks.
    The process of overcoming procrastination WILL involve relapses. Since it is impossible to avoid a failure or two, the key is bouncing back and pushing forward. When you do relapse, take time to reflect on the reasons for it and use that insight to improve your next goal-setting session.


Adapted from: Hirsch, G. (1995). Counseling Students in Academic Difficulty: A Training Manual.

Overcoming Procrastination