When it’s time to study do you find yourself binge-watching entire seasons of Netflix? Scrolling TikTok till your phone battery dies? Perhaps your home is unusually spotless and it suddenly seems urgent to keep it tidy? Or are you convinced that you perform well under pressure and purposefully wait till the last minute to get to your studies?
You are not alone. Procrastination is extremely common among university students. There is even a category called academic procrastination, where students “…voluntarily delay an intended course of study-related action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay”. It is human to avoid more painful or challenging tasks in the pursuit of more pleasurable or easier activities, but there are levels at which it becomes an issue. Persistent and problematic procrastination affects 50% of university students. If procrastination is impacting your studies, it is important for you to learn to manage it.
You might believe that being a procrastinator is a personal failing. Or that if you learn to manage your time better it would stop. It turns out that procrastination is a lot more complex than that. Studies have found that getting down on yourself for procrastinating makes you procrastinate more.
The connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour is central to understanding procrastination. Learning to reduce problematic procrastination to challenge unhelpful thoughts (e.g. “I work better under pressure”), and learning to cope with challenging feelings (e.g. anxiety, boredom) is crucial to reducing problematic procrastination. Learning to take a balanced, compassionate attitude toward yourself can interrupt the cycle of procrastination.
If you are worried, stressed or even anxious about how procrastination is impacting your studies, we recommend learning scientifically-backed tactics for managing your academic procrastination and seeking personal support for your individual needs. If you want to learn how to manage persistent procrastination, don’t miss Curtin’s lunchtime webinar series on procrastination (when available). You can check the group programs page to see what is currently planned.
The information in this article is just a glimpse of the information provided at Curtin’s Managing Procrastination group workshops as learned from Curtin’s Psychologist Brent Stewart.
 Steel, P., & Klingsieck, K. B. (2016). Academic Procrastination: Psychological Antecedents Revisited. Australian Psychologist, 51, 36-46
 Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 65–94.
 Wohl, M. J. A., Pychyl, T. A., & Bennett, S. H. (2010). I forgive myself, now I can study: How self-forgiveness for procrastinating can reduce future procrastination. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(7), 803–808