Overcoming Procrastination


Become aware of your procrastination patterns by answering the following questions:

  • Are there specific kinds of tasks involved when you procrastinate?  Identify the types of tasks you avoid and activate strategies to change your pattern.
  • Do you tend to put off starting a task, or do you start with enthusiasm, and never finish?  Understanding when in the process of the task you procrastinate can help you select strategies to change.
  • Do you start multiple tasks, jumping from one to another, making less important tasks seem urgent?  When you find yourself scurrying around, aimlessly busy, identify the task you are avoiding.


Clarifying the reasons for procrastination helps in choosing strategies for change.

  • It’s so boring.  I don’t want to do it.  Tasks perceived as boring are hard to begin or complete. Engage others to work with you.  Realize interest increases as you get involved in the task.  
  • I’m afraid I can’t.  You may procrastinate as a way to avoid failure.  Excuses are made to give the impression that if you had been able to complete the task, you would have been successful.  
  • It’s got to be perfect.  You may be excessively critical of your own work, so you delay and avoid in order to have the excuse, “I had to do this in a hurry; it is not my best work.”
  • It’s so overwhelming! You may be confused about how to do a task and afraid to ask for help.  A task may seem overwhelming.  You may not know where to find help, so you avoid the task.
  • I’m going to fail, so why try?  You may feel inadequate.  You “know” you don’t have enough time, the situation is hopeless, or you don’t have the skills, so you make no attempt to tackle the task.  
  • It’s just the way I do things. Procrastination may have become a way of “doing life.”  You wait until threat of a crisis to act.  Your focus is on completing the task, not on the quality of the final product.  Learning time management and goal setting techniques that can replace less effective behavioral patterns will benefit habitual procrastinators.  


  • Create a plan. Break the project into a list of mini-tasks.  Write each mini-task down.
  • Work one hour.  Work one hour without distractions on the task and see how much you accomplish.  From that you will be able to gauge how much time the project will require.
  • Make a calendar.  Chart deadlines for each mini-task.  Include rewards for having finished each portion of the project.  Schedule time on a weekly planner for the mini-tasks and follow through!
  • Ask for help.  Make good use of other people as resources.  There is no reason to be ashamed to ask questions or to seek help for a project.  
  • Make a contract with yourself.  Create a contract to complete a task and reread it when you hear yourself making excuses.  Have others sign as witnesses and hold you accountable to your promise.
  • List your priorities. When you feel overextended, list your tasks and prioritize them.  Focus your time on the most important and let the others go.
  • Set boundaries.  Say no to distractions and people who demand your time when the demands are not your priorities.  
  • Face your fear of failure. Then, focus on your positive traits. Use positive self-talk to change your perceptions.  Talk to yourself as you would to a close friend you are encouraging.  
  • Relax your personal standards. Humans are incapable of perfection. Strive for excellence instead.  Make it your goal to improve with each attempt. This goal rewards effort and allows for failure.  


Bargaining—I’ll play now and study later.   
Living in denial— I’ll think about that tomorrow.
Blaming— I want an A, but he will never give me one, so why try?
And, The Mother of All Excuses—I work best under pressure.
Do you mean by that statement that:

As the deadline approaches, your adrenaline starts pumping, your energy soars, your efforts become focused, and while feeling calm and confident, you do a good job finishing on time?  

If not, or if you answer yes to the following questions, there is a problem.

  • At deadline, do you feel stressed, pressured, or frazzled?
  • Do you feel you have 100 things to do and no time left?
  • Do you generate stress for those around you?
  • Do you sometimes miss a deadline?  
  • Do you get headaches, stomach aches, or other ailments as deadlines approach?
  • Are you irritable or crabby as deadlines approach?

If so, you don’t work best under pressure.


Used with permission from Trish Baum, Resource Coordinator of Academic Support Programs, Baylor University. 

"Baylor University ||| Procrastination. " Academic Support Programs | Baylor University. Accessed November 5, 2015. http://www.baylor.edu/support_programs/index.php?id=42439/