BreatheUni: Tips for beating procrastination

Mariam G., BSc Psychology and Counselling Student


“I’ll do it later” … “Let me finish one more episode” … “There’s no point in doing it now”

These are the excuses we tell ourselves. We all do it. Most of the time it’s harmless, but once it becomes a habit, that’s when we have a serious problem.

Procrastination is very common and can cause a feeling of stress as well as guilt. There is an array of negative emotions that are linked with procrastination which can debilitate a person’s mental health by causing anxiety and in some cases, depression. Strangely, we know some things need be done by a certain time, yet we do what we can to put it off for some other time knowing this immediate gratification will soon be over the following day. Having experienced procrastination on daily basis as I am sure most of you reading this have, it may seem frustration and the thought of breaking this habit may seem non-existent. However, there are ways to overcome this and if you take the time to reflect and find the cause of your procrastination, you can find the solution. Here are some of my tips to get more done in the day and to meet those deadlines without experiencing immense pressure and stress.

Make a plan
Making a plan can set out the course of events that need to take place which can make it easier to visualise all the steps involved. For example, in a school project, you would make a plan to know what the first thing will be you will do and so on, knowing all the integral parts of the project and listing it out will make it easier to visualise what needs to be done from start to finish and you will then be able to assign a timeline as to when to complete each section.

Get organised
Knowing what you need/require to complete a given task will inevitably make the process a lot smoother and less stressful. For example, having all your stationery, equipment and tools to do the research is more efficient in the long run and will get you to the completion of your project more quickly.

Break it down
Even when a plan is made, and you are all organised you may still get the feeling that there is way too much to do. BREAK IT DOWN and don’t rush. Focus on one thing at a time and make sure it is done right before moving on to the next task.

Now you are in the right mindset and have taken the precaution to avoid procrastination it’s time to get the work done. Do what you have to do to stay positive such as listen to music or eating a snack (don’t get too distracted).

Finally, REST. It is important after doing a task to wind down and take a break. Take time for yourself and spend time with others. You deserve to have a balanced work/life balance and you should feel good about yourself that you got something done.

We would all love it if there was a simple answer to eliminate procrastination for good, but there isn’t. The truth is, life will get in the way and from time to time you will find yourself procrastination whether it’s because you’re not in the mood, you feel tired or distracted, but don’t let this discourage you and don’t let yourself make this a habit. Find your own rhythm and what works for you and with practice, you will find yourself forming new healthy and constructive coping strategies that will make you more productive in the long run.

Feel like learning a bit more about other people’s experiences and get a chance to share your own? Come join us at 7pm on Thursday 11th of March at our BreatheUni café, which will be all about procrastination. And follow us on Instagram @breathe_uni!