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Overcoming procrastination

Do the task for just a few minutes

Not only do procrastinators spend longer distracting themselves doing the ‘wrong things’ but they also delay starting the ‘right’ things. This was the finding of a study into students who procrastinate. To combat this, effect, there is how once you start something; your brain remains alert until you finish it. Starting a task is often the hardest part. If you can persuade someone just to start it for a few minutes, the brain’s desire to see it through to completion should then take over.

Do the hard and important tasks first

Our daily biological clocks, known as our Circadian Rhythm, ensure that we are often at our most alerts at about 10 am before we suffer a mid-afternoon dip. The harder the tasks are, the more energy and concentration we need to complete them. It, therefore, makes sense to do the hardest and most important tasks first because trying to start them when you are tired is difficult, often resulting in people putting them off for another day.

Improve self-regulation ability and beliefs

Self-regulation is the ability to select appropriate strategies and self-correct them during a task. The Sutton Trust describes this as one of the most efficient and effective strategies to help Pupil Premium students. Procrastination has been described as a failure to self-regulate; however, procrastination researchers state that knowing self-regulation is important is not enough to overcome procrastination on its own. To be effective, students need to have the confidence to implement these strategies and skills.

Manage your environment

If you can see temptations, you are more likely to be distracted by them, and therefore procrastinate. For example, a recent study found that having your phone out and insight, even if you are not using it, can make you perform 20% worse than if you had put your phone away. The mere presence of a cell phone may be sufficiently distracting to produce diminished attention’. Consider your working environment; is it conducive to the task at hand or one where procrastination can flourish?

Set yourself a short deadline

It has long been observed that the further away from an event is, the less impact it has on people’s decisions.’ Break down the task and give yourself a short deadline for each part.

Increase confidence and self-belief

Students who believe that they won’t be successful at the task at hand are more likely to procrastinate. One way to increase their confidence is to highlight how others who have been in a similar position have been successful. This can make the task at hand seem achievable and provide a possible template to follow

Make the task harder

This may sound counter-intuitive. Surely a harder task will lead to someone wanting to put off the task even more? Apparently not. People report a higher sense of satisfaction if they have successfully completed a difficult task. To combat high achieving students who may get bored, making the task a little more challenging should work, as long as it is still achievable