Have you ever thought, “Hmm, I still have two more days until my essay is due, I think I will start the day before?” Well if you have, face it, you are a procrastinator. The definition of procrastination is postponing or delaying something. Procrastination is a bad idea to use for assignments, in which many college students still use even after a bad grade. In May of 2014 results on a study was conducted by an international site that provides students with online learning tools called StudyMode. Through this research they concluded that about 88% of college students procrastinate on a daily basis. As a college student, I too have procrastinated and know of many college students who can relate to procrastination especially on those late nights when an assignment is do in just a few hours and you are running on no sleep. Procrastination brings health consequences to a person’s life, including anxiety and regret; however, there are ways to make those procrastination nights, less horrible or even eliminate them all together. 


Learning about why college students procrastinate will help us realize that we are able to prevent it. In order to prevent procrastination, we must fully understand why we choose to procrastinate. Pamela Wiegartz states that, “procrastination results from a combination of psychological and environmental factors” (Wiegartz 25).  For example, you might procrastinate on your midterm, essay, or studying for your final simply because the people around you choose not to. However, in order to be successful, an individual cannot cave into peer pressure or what others are doing. This is your grade and your future career path, not your friends. So I ask you? Why continue to procrastinate with your friends? Furthermore, Procrastination can also occur from, “a physically uncomfortable space” (25). For example, if a person cannot study in a place where people are talking, then an individual will continue to put off an assignment. Also, Wiegartz expresses that many college students struggle with anxious procrastination, in which an individual puts off an assignment because they are scared to fail. All college students, especially me, have gone through finals week with an anxiety of the unknown and the “what if I fail?” or “why should I even study? The teacher never gives the proper study guide.” However, according to Wiegartz, this attitude brings down a person’s self-efficacy and whether or not a college student studies, the same results remain: “anxiety, worry, and avoidance that hobble productivity and prevent you from reaching your goals” (13). A greater consequence comes from procrastination: low quality of life. The constant state of worrying involved with procrastination can cause, “stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even depression” (Tullier 12).


Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik conducted an experiment in which she had participants doing a simple task such as, putting toys in boxes. She would stop some participants in the middle of what they were doing, not allowing them to finish. Her research concluded that “those participants which she had stopped, continued to think about the task” (“No Interruptions?”). Those that did not finish the task would get “anxiety from not completing the assignment” (No Interruptions?”). Now that is just one scenario, imagine that happening every time you have an assignment and you continue to put it off just because, then when you are actually doing it you are rushed, stressed out, and not giving your whole effort. The lifestyle of a college student procrastinator creates a turmoil that can, “wreak havoc on our mental health” (Tullier 12).


Procrastination can be cured from individuals, more specifically college students, if they take the time to understand what procrastination is connected to. Psychologist John Grohol frames the roots of procrastination to be fear, perfectionism, and disorganization. The way that some students use fear as a “reinforcement” to procrastination is by saying, “I knew I was going to fail anyways” when they do not give all their effort into an assignment (“Learn About Procrastination”). Some see it as justification to putting off the task until the end. Ironically perfectionism is a big deal when putting off assignments until the last minute. Students will continue to wait until the last minute and set “unreachable goals” such as, waiting until the night before it is due to write a ten-page report (“Learn About Procrastination”). The student will obviously not reach the goal and even though there was not a way for it to be perfect, some students blame themselves harshly which Grohol witnesses can lead to “anxiety and depression” (“Learn About Procrastination”). Disorganization is another root of procrastination because we do not allow ourselves the time for the assignment. Instead of doing it in small amounts at a time a procrastinator will try to do the whole assignment all at once, as fast as they can. This leads to inefficiency such as, forgetting something in the assignment and lower grades because of the effort being put in. Connected to our irrational tactics to doing assignments at the last minute are the actual reasons why one might put off an assignment. Jeffery Combs provides us with six reasons why people procrastinate: Lack of skill, lack of interest, lack of motivation, fear of failure, fear of success, and rebellion or resistance. Sometimes it is difficult for us to keep up with the assignments for a class especially when we do not understand the subject matter or when we just do not like it. Others may just not be motivated when taking a class that they continue to get bad grades in. This leads to fear of failure or fear of success because you are so use to failing, due to procrastination, or you have failed so often that it is difficult to see yourself even doing well on an assignment. Lastly, there are those students that procrastinate simply because they are not doing what they want to do with their education, so they do not see a point to it at all. These reasons can all be linked back to each other all because college students let time slip through their fingers or influences from others that are not taking responsibility for that student’s grades. 


Now that we know what procrastination is, how it is connected to us, and why we do it; we can now discuss how procrastination can be prevented the next time we are faced with a deadline. Jeffery Combs believes that procrastination, “is based on controlling illusory outcome” (Combs 157).  In other words, procrastinating on an assignment and hoping to meet collegiate level standards the night before the assignment is due, is similar to “controlling an outcome that you can’t control” (Combs 157). We have the power to control our outcomes and failures, but if we give that power over to procrastination then we lose control of the outcome. Therefore, breaking the assignment into parts or as Combs calls it, “the power of fifteen minutes” to set a timer and get whatever you can done within that time fraction (Combs 176). The power of fifteen minutes also leads to motivation because the college student is able identify the amount of work they are capable of getting done in a small amount of time. Furthermore, if you are the type of person that lives based off rewards, but are scared to take a risk, Combs believes that being reward conscious can lead to a more productive conscious person.  For example, giving half of your effort to an essay, may cause you to redo the work once you acknowledge the reward is an A. Thus, that A might set the student a part when applying to a nursing program or master’s program. Furthermore, some college students have extreme regret from procrastinating once they have received their grade. Combs states that, “regret is easy, regret is familiar” and that can spark a “transformation challenge” (Combs 161). We all know of that ugly, regretful feeling when we did not give it our all. Moreover, to avoid this regret a college student needs to make time an “ally, not an enemy” so that the student will never have to feel “a sense of dread or even panic that comes when you realize you haven’t gotten around to starting something you should be doing” (Tullier 3). Tullier suggests another beneficial tactic by having the individual talk themselves through why they should complete the assignment and get rid of irrational questions that they use on themselves to get out of doing the assignment. Breaking the assignment up into parts and doing them at the students own efficient pace will also allow them to get the whole assignment down and it will be as perfect as they want it to be. These minor adjustments into a college students’ academic career can produce a productive conscious individual, instead of a lazy, worrisome college student.

In conclusion, procrastination is not only harmful to a college students’ academic career, but their mental health and quality of life. Those two factors should not be tampered with at all, simply because we do not feel like doing something. Therefore, I will leave you with this quote, “If you sit on the bench, all you will collect is splinters and disappointment” (Combs 158). 

Works Cited

Combs, Jeffery. The Procrastination Cure: 7 Steps To Stop Putting Life Off. Career Press, 2012. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=415711&site=ehost-live.

Grohol, John M. “Learn About Procrastination.” Psych Central, Psych Central.com, 8 Oct. 2018, psychcentral.com/lib/learn-about-procrastination/.

StudyMode. “Eighty-Seven Percent of High School and College Students Are Self-Proclaimed Procrastinators.” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, 27 May 2014, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eighty-seven-percent-of-high-school-and-college-students-are-self-proclaimed-procrastinators-260750441.html.

Tullier, L.Michelle. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, 2E. Vol. 2nded, Alpha, 2012. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=478444&site=ehost-live.

Waude, Adam. “No Interruptions? How The Zeigarnik Effect Could Help You To Study Better.” Psychologist World, 23 Apr. 2016, http://www.psychologistworld.com/memory/zeigarnik-effect-interruptions-memory.

Wiegartz, Pamela S., and Kevin L. Gyoerkoe. The Worrier’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination : Breaking Free From the Anxiety That Holds You Back. New Harbinger Publications, 2010. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=410125&site=ehost-live.

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