5 Ways to Help Students Unlearn and Eliminate Procrastination

According to a report published by the American Psychological Association, 80 to 95% of college students procrastinate habitually, especially when doing their assignments and projects.

This report demonstrates the prevalence of procrastination (which most experts agree is more of a decision not to act than mere dilly-dallying and putting off tasks) among college students.

This trait has various adverse effects on a student’s academic performance and health.

More specifically, habitual procrastination impacts a person’s mental health since it can cause higher levels of frustration, anxiety, stress, and guilt. It can even lead to more serious issues, such as low self-esteem and depression.

For this reason, it’s not unusual for qualified providers of stress treatment in Dubai to learn that many of their younger clients ask for their help to unlearn this unhealthy trait so that they can improve their mental health.

Unlearning and eliminating procrastination are also crucial in helping students perform better academically and unlocking more of their potential.

How to Help Students to Stop Procrastinating

Regardless of their age, students can unlearn and eliminate procrastination. You can help them achieve these goals with these tips and techniques:

1. Give concrete, detailed tasks.

Most students are likely to put off doing their homework and projects if they don’t know how to start doing them.

Because of this, it is important to ensure your students understand your specific expectations and the requirements of the assignment or project whenever you give them one.

Always put your instructions in writing so that students can refer to them when they need to. If you write them on a board, instruct them to copy them.

Consider sending the instructions to the students by email as well.

Make sure you provide clear instructions and examples to help them understand their assignment or project.

Keep in mind that the way in which you provide instructions will affect your students’ ability to understand and complete the tasks you give them and the work they submit.

2. Break large, complex projects into smaller ones with separate deadlines.

In a study conducted in 2002, researchers investigated the effect of three types of deadlines (evenly spaced, self-imposed, or a single, final deadline) in two experiments.

In both experiments, students who chose evenly spaced deadlines provided better output and reduced the chances that they would miss their deadlines.

With this in mind, help students eliminate procrastination by breaking large and complex assignments and projects into smaller tasks with evenly spaced deadlines.

For instance, if you assign students a research paper, aside from giving them a specific deadline for finishing it, ask them to submit multiple drafts on particular dates to check their progress.

This technique helps ensure your students finish a part of their project and avoid rushing to finish it days before the final deadline.

Spacing deadlines is also helpful for students who are frightened of large and complex projects. Since you’re making parts of it more manageable, you’ll help them lower the anxiety caused by an intimidating deadline.

3. Teach students time management skills.

Many students also have the habit of procrastinating when preparing for a big exam. And as the test day draws nearer, they’ll be wracked with stress and anxiety.

If you want your students to help reduce their procrastination and eventually eliminate it, teach them useful time management skills and study tips.

Some skills and tips you can teach them include:

Although many students may already know these tips, it wouldn’t hurt to remind them about them and highlight how useful they are in helping them prepare for exams and quizzes.

These tips and skills can also help students who have assignments and projects to work on.

4. Provide feedback the right way.

Many students with low self-esteem are often hesitant to submit their work since they are worried about failing and being criticized.

These fears can cause some students to delay working on their projects and assignments.

Because of this, try to avoid giving harsh and critical feedback to students no matter how dissatisfied you are with their work. This can cause them to have lower self-esteem and feel more nervous and self-conscious.

Some students also respond poorly to negative feedback that feels controlling, so avoid being too detailed and explicit about their mistakes.

Lastly, try not to give negative feedback about your students’ work in front of their peers since they may become uncomfortable and disengaged and further lower their confidence.

5. Find ways to make learning more meaningful for the students.

Habitual procrastinators find it challenging to do and complete tasks that they deem irrelevant or meaningless.

Explaining to the students how they can apply what you’re teaching them in their daily lives can help them understand the importance of these topics.

When the students are aware of the usefulness of your lessons, you help them appreciate what they’re learning and become more motivated to review for a test or do their project.

Aside from lectures, look for and provide activities that connect learning to the students’ interests or real-life scenarios.

For instance, come up with common problems in their communities and encourage them to apply what they have learned to deal with these issues. This simple activity allows them to understand better the impact the topic has on their daily lives.

If you have students whose procrastination affects their work performance and mental health, work with their parents to help them unlearn and eliminate this trait.

Aside from implementing these techniques, some students may need stress or anxiety treatment without medication to overcome the impact of this habit on their mental health and lifestyle.

Neurofeedback is a medication-free program that trains the brain to overcome stress and anxiety caused by or associated with procrastination and schoolwork.

A professional will customize a program for the student to help them learn how to feel calmer and less nervous, allowing them to have a clearer mind and be more proactive in managing their schedules and prioritizing their goals.

If you want to know more about how neurofeedback can help students lead a healthier lifestyle, schedule an appointment at our clinic.

Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.

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