Stomping the Yard

Three Ways to Avoid Procrastination

Our college blogger Dr. Shante Bishop shares key strategies to help college students overcome procrastination.
Credit: Thinkstock

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“I do my best work under pressure…”

“I’ve got another week…”

“I’ll get to it right after Scandal…”

“Ok, let me just check Facebook real quick…”

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. Despite our best intentions, future ambitions, and the fact that many of our opportunities are tied to performing well on tasks, many of us have a tendency to shoot ourselves in the foot by waiting until the last minute to get things done.

Procrastination is extremely common and not just among college students. Many adults struggle as well. Procrastinating is usually a symptom of a larger issue. In most cases, the larger issue is something that causes us some form of anxiety. It can be fear of failure, fear of confrontation, feelings of helplessness, or something else that we’d rather avoid. As a result, we become masters at finding other things to do: socializing, video games, entertainment (hello, Netflix), social media…ANYTHING to escape the stress of writing papers, studying, filling out forms by the deadline, etc.

While procrastinating might provide a temporary escape, the consequences can be permanent. Poor grades can be a lasting reminder of poor prioritization. Thousands of students have lost their financial aid, or been placed on academic probation for failing to meet the academic standards of their college or university.  Furthermore, procrastination can actually create MORE stress. The longer we wait to get things done, the more anxious we feel. In the words of one of my students, “The struggle is real.”

In just a few weeks, college students all over the country will be staring down the end of the semester where final exams, final projects, and lengthy essays await. Trying one of these strategies can help to overcome your inner saboteur:

1)     Create a Rewards System: One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is by having something to look forward to. Create a short-term goal like reading a certain number of pages, tackling a set of math problems, or writing a certain number of paragraphs, and build in a reward for getting it done. Your reward might be 20 minutes of “free time,” a yummy dessert, or an episode of your favorite show.

2)    Find a Study Partner: Having someone to hold you accountable can be a tremendous help in battling procrastination. This person doesn’t have to be your BFF. It can be a fellow classmate or someone who will keep you on task, help you navigate problems, and work with you on figuring out the answers to complex questions. Sabotaging our own grade is one thing, but when others are counting on us, we tend to rise to the occasion.

 3)    Take Smaller Steps: Sometimes the reason we procrastinate is because we’re overwhelmed by the size of the task. Break the task down into smaller action steps and check off each one as you accomplish it. This will help the task seem more manageable and less intimidating.

Doing away with “stall tactics” can be difficult, but not impossible. Learning to manage procrastination now will pay off in the long run. You’ll be more likely to see a doctor at the first sign of trouble, less likely to pay late fees, and better prepared to manage the demands of work and life.

About Dr. Shante Bishop


Getting TO college is one thing; Getting THROUGH college is quite another. That’s why Dr. Shante’ Bishop offers strategic advice on being successful both in and out of the classroom. From catalogs to cap and gown, Professor Bishop shares what it takes to ‘Stomp the Yard” with confidence and clarity! You can follow Dr. Bishop on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.