Tips for Managing Procrastination

By Vancouver Island University Modified on March 09, 2023
Tags : Academics

How to avoid leaving things to the last minute.

 Tips for Managing Procrastination

By Natasha Labenek

When it comes to leaving things to the last minute, you would be hard-pressed to find a person that doesn’t struggle with this. Procrastination is an issue we all face, whether it’s assignments, applications, or errands you’re putting off. So, what do we do about it?

Hi! My name is Tasha, and I am one of the counsellors/advisors at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus. Pleased to meet a fellow procrastinator! :)

If procrastination is an issue for you like it is for me, join me for a one-hour workshop to discuss tips for managing procrastination. But until then, here are a few ideas to help you get that next task done!

Motivation often comes after you’ve started

We often think completing something has to be mood dependent. That is, we don’t want to complete the task, and we don’t feel like doing it, so we don’t. This is a trap! Remember, you don’t need to be motivated to get started: motivation often comes after you’ve already started, not before. Getting started is the most challenging part about a task. Once you’ve started, you’ll find that it gets easier to keep on going.

Adopt a growth mindset

Another way we can get stuck is in our mindset. It is beneficial in all areas of life to develop what’s called a “growth mindset.” Those with a growth mindset (as opposed to a “fixed mindset”) believe that there’s no “magic formula” when it comes to success. To succeed comes from discipline, hard work, commitment, solution-driven behaviours, and persistence.

In contrast, those with a fixed mindset believe that success is out of their control: that it comes down to luck, skill, or talent. While luck and innate skill can give someone an advantage, it’s rarely the whole picture.

Pay attention to the ways you speak to yourself during a task and substitute any fixed mindset beliefs (“I’m just not smart enough”) with growth mindset beliefs (“That was a tough question; I’ll likely improve with practice and additional support”). Remember, the ways in which we talk to ourselves can lead us on a downward spiral or motivate us to keep moving forward!

Repurpose distractions as rewards

Be aware of your distractions and instead of using them to avoid the task you need to do, use them as a reward for completing your next study session.

First, make a list of the common ways in which you procrastinate, such as surfing the web, liking social media posts, gaming, or binge watching your favourite show. Now, instead of doing those tasks before you get your work done, commit to working first and visualize using those tasks as rewards. After all, once you’ve followed through on your plan, you’ll find you really get to mindfully enjoy those rewards.

Often, when we’re distracting ourselves, we’re rarely able to enjoy those distractions without feeling pangs of guilt, or without stressing about the things we still must do! This is a way to feel good about taking some time to yourself.

Natasha Labenek, M.A., R.P., C.C.C., is a counsellor/academic advisor at VIU’s Cowichan campus.

This article originally appeared on the VIU Blog!

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