The Art of Procrastination


The way in which people revise varies greatly, some write mountains of notes, some draw posters and some are lucky enough to just have to read something to learn it. One key part of nearly everyone’s revision process however is of course procrastination.


Procrastination – the act of replacing something of high-priority or importance with tasks of lower priority, and so putting off important tasks to a later time.

 There are many psychological theories as to why people procrastinate. For some people it can be motivated by the fear of failure – the idea of putting so much effort in to something but still failing frightens them. So procrastination provides them with the excuse that they didn’t work as hard as they could have done, therefore it was not a true test of their abilities.

Bizarrely for others it can be motivated by a fear of success and for these people procrastination is a way of trying to avoid higher expectations and added pressure that can come from doing well.

Perfectionism can also be a cause as people set themselves too high a standard and feel that they cannot do any work unless it is to this level. For example they may feel that their revision notes will only be of use if they are perfectly written and colour coded, causes them to spend hours on just a few pages and in the end meaning that they get little of nothing done.

As well as varying motivations for procrastinating there are also multiple ways in which we do it. In my case I live under the firm belief that I cannot possibly start to revise unless I have made a hot chocolate. In the case of several of my friends they are unable to work unless they have tidied their rooms; with one even going so far as colour coding their wardrobe. In fact chances are you will never see your halls or houses as clean as over the exam period.

Of course there are some that take it to a whole new level, such as one of my mum’s friends from university, who used to spend hours polishing the kettle before they could begin revision. Seeing as he now runs an executive search agency in Hong Kong, clearly it didn’t do too much damage. In fact in some cases things like having a tidy room really can help you concentration, and everyone knows that hot chocolate is scientifically proven to increase I.Q.

On the other hand…if that is what he has ended up doing after hours of procrastination just think what he could have done if he had spent that time working! With that said here are a few ways tips that may help you to cut down on your procrastination time and maybe get a bit of work done:

1. Make a revision plan – but make sure it is a realistic one. Make it too hard and you are only going to end up frying your brain in first few hours and then end up doing even less work. Remember that after 40 minutes your concentration levels drop so take regular (but short breaks).

2. Just get started – by continuing to put off actually doing work you end up making it seem like more and more impossible. The more time you spend delaying do it the harder it becomes in your mind. So stop thinking about all the things that you have to get done and just start doing some of it.


3. Start with the hardest thing first- By doing the hardest work first when you are at your most awake and fresh, not only are you likely to get it done quicker it will also relieve you of a lot of the stress that had you procrastinating in the first place. Plus all the work you do after that will seem easier and so you will be more likely to knuckle down and do it.

4. Know your weakness – if you are prone to the distractions of Facebook then unplug your Internet cable, or switch off your wireless. If you normally distract yourself with tidying then do it before you start to work, that way it won’t interrupt you. The easiest way to avoid a temptation is to get rid of it.

Hopefully these tips will help you to get a little more work done… and if I hope that this article has at least given you something slightly productive to do with you procrastination time.




Discussion2 Comments

  1. avatar

    The tidying comment in number 4 seems a bit contradictory, no? Do the tidying before doing the work certainly seems like procrastination to me! It’d be better to start the work then do the tidying in a break.

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