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Helping Students Overcome Procrastination

Helping Students Overcome Procrastination

Battling procrastination seems like a never-ending challenge for teachers, parents and school administrators. Not only does procrastinating lead to late work, but it also tends to compromise the quality of work being turned in. Fighting procrastination isn't done solely by setting tight deadlines and demanding students do their work "or else." There are several nuanced ways parents and educators alike can help their students overcome procrastination. If you're looking for ways to help your students overcome procrastination, here are some helpful tips to keep your students on track. 

Negative Effects of Procrastination

Before we get into the ways you can help your students overcome procrastination, it's important to consider the negative effects it has on your student's path to success. You may not be aware that procrastinating leads to a range of problems for your students, including: 


  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Poor grades
  • Increased chances for depression and anxiety
  • Higher levels of guilt and frustration


Consistently putting aside your work to enjoy a more favorable activity increases the chances that behavior will persist into adulthood, which in turn leads to a range of other issues. For example, students may experience lowered self-esteem and guilt from having not completed their work. These types of mindsets are toxic as students move forward with their academic careers into secondary education and college, where time management skills are vital to finishing. 

What Causes Procrastination?

Procrastination is believed to be caused by several different factors. Students impacted by procrastination tend to face other emotional and behavioral troubles that can lead to putting their work off until it's too late. Common causes of students procrastinating include: 


  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of understanding
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low self-confidence
  • Perfectionism
  • Low energy levels
  • Fear of failure

These are just a few of the reasons students procrastinate. You've likely noticed your students who are known for procrastinating regularly exhibiting some, if not all, of these behaviors or characteristics at one point or another. There are other causes of procrastination among students that occur on a case-by-case basis. Challenges in your students' personal lives can always be an underlying cause of procrastination. Finding the root cause of a student's procrastination will help you identify ways to combat it while changing their habits for the better. 

Understanding what causes procrastination is key to helping students overcome procrastination. Here are some ways you can fight procrastination in your schools and create a path to success for your students. 

Help Students With Time Management Skills   

One of the best ways to keep procrastination from plaguing your students is by teaching them good time management skills. Time management skills are the solution to keeping students from procrastinating. Teach your students some of the following time management skills to help keep them from procrastinating:


  • Making to-do lists
  • Avoiding and eliminating distractions
  • Setting a schedule and sticking to it
  • Writing all assignments in a planner

These are just a few of the time management skills you can teach your students to help them overcome procrastination. These are also great habits for your students to develop. Developing these habits now will help set them up for success in the future. Helping students overcome procrastination typically starts by equipping them with the behaviors and skills to avoid it altogether. 

Teach Students How to Set Goals

Setting and achieving goals is a characteristic of successful people. Teaching your students how to set goals is a great way to help overcome procrastination. Teach your students SMART goal setting. SMART goal setting stands for: 


  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

Using the criteria above, teach your students how to set goals and, most importantly, achieve those goals. There are many reasons students procrastinate, but you can combat this behavior by teaching them to set goals. When students procrastinate due to a lack of motivation, having goals in place can help give them the motivation they need to stay productive and keep up with their assignments. Students and young people, in general, can have a difficult time identifying their end goal, so keeping them focused and on track with SMART goals can be a big help. 


Create a Classroom That Embraces Failure   

When students procrastinate out of a fear of failure, it can mean they'd rather not make an attempt than fail at whatever it is they're assigned or currently working on. Combat this toxic mindset by creating a classroom culture that embraces failure. 

Fear of failure is a real issue that can manifest itself in many ways, including procrastination. Failure can be a powerful teaching tool that motivates students and shows them what not to do, which can be more impactful than understanding what needs to be done to be successful. Even the most successful people experience failure at some point or another during the course of their journey. 

Create a classroom that embraces failure and uses it as a powerful teaching tool as opposed to a stigmatized outcome that should be avoided at all costs. This will instill a mindset in your students that makes it easier for them to 'breathe" and feel free to make mistakes. When they feel free to make mistakes, your students will release their inhibitions and allow themselves to flourish. 

Create Ways to Boost Student Motivation   

Coming up with new ways to boost student motivation can be tough. When you're attempting to motivate students, one of the best ways to find their motivations is to simply ask them. Offer a path for students to take charge and have some control over their learning environment. If you're still having trouble developing new sources of motivation for your students, then you can try some of the following methods: 


  • Offer opportunities for students to work together.
  • Be clear about learning objectives.
  • Set high yet manageable goals, like SMART goals.
  • Track workflow and other academic processes.
  • Offer feedback and provide opportunities for improvement.
  • Incentivize students with a reward system.

These are just a few ways you can boost student motivation and help overcome procrastination. Students who procrastinate the most often just need a little motivation to help keep them productive and their work done on time. 


Be Mindful of Workload    

An overwhelming workload will cause your students to procrastinate. When you assign too much work, your students can't see an end to the work and this leads to procrastination. Be mindful of workload and assign meaningful work as opposed to too much work. Meaningful assignments and projects designed to drive home learning objectives are more powerful teaching tools than assigning an abundance of homework just for the sake of assigning homework. 

Set Clear Instructions and Examples   

A lack of understanding is one of the root causes of procrastination for many students. This makes sense because it's hard to get excited about an assignment or project when you aren't clear about what's expected of you or what a successfully completed project looks like. Combat a lack of understanding that leads to procrastination by providing your students with a clear set of instructions complete with examples. 

For each assignment or project, develop a clear set of instructions and provide examples of past students' work as a point of reference. This will clear up any confusion and answer questions before they arise.  

Success by Design Has the Tools to Fight Student Procrastination

Fighting procrastination starts with solid time management, organizing and planning skills learned from a young age. At Success by Design, we have the tools parents, teachers and principals need to fight procrastination and keep students on the fast track to success. Our planners are designed for students of all ages and grade levels to help them be as successful as possible while avoiding the pitfalls associated with procrastinating their assignments and other class projects. 

We offer bulk pricing for schools and districts. Get in touch with our knowledgeable team to learn more about the ways Success by Design can help your students overcome procrastination and get on the path to success! 


Shop Success By Design's planners here.

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