How to Eliminate Student Procrastination

Colleen Sullivan
Colleen Sullivan
Scholastic Outreach Representative; M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Point Park University
Bored girl on her smartphone while her work sits on the table.

Procrastination is something many people suffer from, not only students in the classroom. Although it may not seem like it can affect us, it truly can and in many ways. It is quite simple to put stuff off when we do not want to focus our attention on it. There are many reasons for procrastination, negative effects of it, and ways to discourage it.

Why Do Some Students Procrastinate?

One reason some students may procrastinate is because they do not know what the desired outcome or expectation is for their work. This stems from communication on part of the teacher. They may think it is acceptable to keep putting work off if they do not know what their level of performance needs to be or what general expectations are. This will also lead to a lack of motivation among students if they are confused and do not have the information they need.

Another reason some students may procrastinate is because they simply do not know where to start. This can cause students to get overwhelmed quite easily with not knowing where to begin, so they will often put the work off until close to when work and assignments are due.

Also, another reason some students may procrastinate is because they get distracted. It is easy for students to get distracted by other things, especially when completing schoolwork after school hours. They are more concerned with other things at that point. These distractions can happen deliberately, if students are actively seeking them to avoid doing their work, or involuntarily if students are responding to any distractions in their internal or external environment. They may not even have time to pause to see what is happening.

Another popular reason some students may procrastinate is because of the fear of failing at something. Even adults are guilty of this to an extent. Students can get very preoccupied with making everything perfect and not messing up which also causes anxiety and nervousness. This could also possibly lead to students just avoiding projects even more as the deadline approaches. Ideally, students would have ample time to reach out to the teacher for feedback and clarification prior to due dates, to eliminate anxiety and fear of failing.

Finally, some students may procrastinate if they have many scheduled activities or obligations with not much time for themselves. If this happens, they will likely want to seek out time to just relax and do things for themselves. Many people underestimate the importance of self-care and the effects it can have if it is neglected.

With many of these factors, it can cause students to feel resistant to completing any schoolwork. Thus, negatively impacting their grades. If many negative factors and experiences are among them, they may not want to or complete any of their schoolwork at all. The procrastination can lead to more severe states, so it is essential to attempt to catch it early and make necessary adjustments.

What are the Negative Effects of Procrastinating?

There are many negative effects of procrastination. Students may miss many opportunities, not meet goals, have lower self-esteem, or even make poor decisions. Procrastination can really impact students’ lives and perhaps their future lives.

First, there could be many wonderful opportunities that present themselves that students may miss out on because of procrastination. As we know, opportunities, especially good ones, do not come up very often. If students are putting schoolwork off, it can lead them to losing that time because they will need to complete it later. This, along with losing the time, can lead to further negativity, jadedness, or regret.

Students should be goal setters. This can stem from teachers and parents leading by example. If procrastination is not allowing students to set goals to better themselves and see the “bigger picture”, then they should look closer and try to avoid it or learn from it to change it.

Due to procrastination, students can have lower self-esteem. Students may feel like they are failing because they just can’t ever get anything accomplished. When students doubt themselves, it can trickle down into many areas of their lives.

Lastly, due to procrastination, students can begin making poor decisions. The decisions we make daily are based on our thoughts and emotions. If students are having negative and uneasy thoughts and emotions, they will likely begin making poor decisions. Again, this can impact various areas of their lives.

Ways to Discourage Student Procrastination

There are many ways to discourage procrastination for students. Some ways include self-motivation, eating healthy and exercising, working when you feel most efficient and alert, and setting strict deadlines for themselves.

There are many ways students can motivate themselves. They should focus on things they truly enjoy doing and reset their mindset to convince themselves they can achieve their tasks. They could also cater to other interests like music, painting, or drawing.

Additionally, eating healthy and exercising are both excellent ways to avoid procrastination. This helps both the mental and physical states. Students can begin to feel stronger. If they are feeling stronger both mentally and physically, there is a less chance of procrastination occurring. They should begin to feel a more productive attitude.

Another great way to discourage procrastination is to work when feeling most alert and efficient. Whatever time of day is suitable, that is when students should begin work. For some, immediately after school may be the best time to get it out of the way. Others may prefer some quality “me time” in that space and to complete their work later. It is truly whatever is most suitable for the individual person.

Finally, a way to discourage procrastination is for students to set strict deadlines for themselves and maintain organization on a schedule which can benefit them. Students should know exactly what they need to do each day and what days and times their work needs to be completed.

graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?

We can help you find a graduate program.

Our accessible staff is dedicated to providing a smooth and supportive admissions process for busy teachers.

By subscribing you agree to receive marketing emails, and newsletters from us. See privacy policy.