5 ways to kick the procrastination habit

April 28, 2023

When was the last time you were absolutely dreading completing a task? Did you do it right away? Chances are, you put it off to do something easier or more enticing. In other words, you chose to procrastinate.

Experts define procrastination as the voluntary delay of some important task we intend to do, despite knowing that we will suffer as a result. Procrastination is more about delaying rather than waiting, but more importantly, experts tell us that procrastination is really about emotional management.

By becoming aware of our emotions and how to regulate them, we can reframe our state of mind and overcome the procrastination habit, explains Lisa Matich, director of Aurora University’s Academic Support Center.

Here are five ways to help reframe procrastination:

  1. Practice positive self-talk. Positive self-talk can help you with emotional regulation, which will make you less likely to procrastinate. Talk to yourself in ways that remind you of your goals. Instead of engaging in the negative self-talk that often leads to procrastination, make affirmative statements. For example, instead of saying, “I wish I hadn’t put this off,” say, “I will start working on this now.”
  2. Commit to starting new habits. At its core, procrastination is a habit that is developed when our brains decide that delaying a task creates a better reward than working toward completing it. By committing to creating new, more productive habits, we can teach our brains to view completing a task as a reward in itself.
  3. Alter your perspective. Large projects are often daunting. How will you ever get it done? Overcome the temptation to avoid starting a big task by breaking it down into smaller pieces. These bite-sized tasks can seem more attainable than one large task, making it more inviting for you to begin.
  4. Look for what’s appealing about completing the task. Rather than thinking about the outcome — for example, the grade at the end of an assignment — think about what you want to get out of your task. Are you looking to learn something new or improve on a skill? Look for outcomes that occur along the way as you complete the task.
  5. Think about productive reasons to complete tasks. Set yourself positive, concrete, meaningful goals, and be realistic about what you can complete so you don’t sabotage yourself.

For more tips on overcoming procrastination, watch the recording of a presentation previously given by Lisa Matich. The Academic Support Center also offers individualized coaching so you can learn strategies to help you achieve academic success. Make an appointment through Academic SupportNet on Okta