Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Procrastinate now!

If procrastination was an Olympic sport, college students would take home the gold, silver and bronze medals every four years (provided they actually bothered to book plane tickets to the host nation).

Researchers estimate that somewhere around 90 percent of college students procrastinate. Though many students take pride in their procrastination, the fact is that it can get out of control and cause serious problems in a person’s life. Nearly one-quarter of all students are chronic procrastinators. These are the ones who typically end up failing out of school.

Most students cite fear of failure as the No. 1 reason they procrastinate. Instead of confronting problems, it’s easier to avoid them. College students are a smart bunch. No student is naive enough to think that schoolwork can be put off forever, but, somehow, this doesn’t stop them from habitually leaving things until the last minute.

Overcoming Procrastination

If your academic health isn’t enough of a reason to stop procrastinating, think about this: procrastination is bad for your physical health. Students procrastinate to avoid anxiety, but it usually ends up causing even more stress. This leads students to seek other coping mechanisms to deal with this stress. Chronic procrastinators have higher rates of smoking and drinking than other students.

In order to overcome procrastination, you must have a genuine desire to succeed. Procrastination is a habit. With the right discipline, the habit can be broken. Try these procrastination-busting strategies:

  • Use time wisely. Make a habit of using good time-management strategies. Try to see time as a scarce resource.
  • Picture the future. Think about how good you’ll feel after you have handed in a great essay or passed a tough test. Now, do what it takes to make that image a reality.
  • Break tasks down into their components. Focus on one small thing at a time. This will help minimize the overwhelming feelings that can arise from having many assignments hanging over your head at once.
  • Make a commitment to yourself. Before you go to bed each night, commit to spending a set number of hours working on your assignments the next day. If you take pride in your work ethic, you’ll find it easier to put in the time required to meet your goals.
  • Reward yourself for meeting your goals. Half an hour of television or video games is a lot more fun when you’ve earned it by finishing your homework for the day. Don’t let yourself spend time on leisure activities until your work is done.
  • Eliminate all distractions. Work in a controlled environment that’s optimized for concentration and productivity. Get a snack before you start working. Log off your instant messaging program. Turn off the TV.
  • Get help. If all else fails, consult your school’s student services office. There, you can find a team of trained professionals who can help you kick your procrastination habit.
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