Procrastination occurs when we feel stressed or anxious about a task, and our anxiety responds to reduce this with procrastination. This usually means putting tasks off using different tactics. Some students will spend long lengths of time on their phone or laptop, others will do other pieces of work but avoid the one that they are anxious about. Procrastination not only affects our work, but can commonly involves feelings such as stress, guilt, and inadequacy, which fuel a cycle where we lose confidence in our ability to get back on track. This can result in students continuing to engage in procrastination.

It is very common to experience procrastination at university, due to competing deadlines and pressure. It is possible to manage procrastination through prioritisation, scheduled breaks, breaking down large tasks and focusing on one topic at a time.

In order to overcome procrastination, it can be helpful to recognised when you procrastinate and why.

  1. Recognise
    1. Put tasks off
    2. Fill your day with low priority tasks
    3. Leave important tasks on your to-do list
    4. Start high priority tasks and then get distracted
    5. Complete tasks others ask you to do, not the ones you need to do
  2. Why do you procrastinate?
    1. Lots of students think to themselves - "I have loads of time!" but sometimes this is masking anxieties and worries which lead to procrastination. 
    2. Worried about failing or not doing well - "I cannot fail if I don't try" 
    3. Being unsure where is best to start - the answer is likely to be doing anything, even just writing what you know about the topic! 
    4. Feeling lost - speak to a tutor., 
    5. You don't like your topic or degree 

Tips for Procrastinating 

  • Keep a To-Do List. This will prevent you from forgetting about those unpleasant or overwhelming tasks. You can use our digital To-Do List designed to for students! (bottom of the page)
  • Prioritize your To-Do List - this will enable you to quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you can ignore.
  • Planning your day in manageable time slots - lots of students plan to spend hours working on one thing all day. We would recommend trying to plan 1 - 2 hours slots, with breaks, to work on a task. You can use our Revision Planner throughout the year to help with this! (bottom of the page)
  • Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times. Do you work better in the morning or the afternoon? Identify when you're most effective, and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times.

The main way to tackle procrastination is to do small amounts of work in a consistent way!

What support do we offer? 

Student Services is here to help you if you are struggling with procrastination. We can help you develop healthy coping strategies to manage procrastination and overcome the difficulties it poses. You can book an appointment to speak to a member of staff or email for advice. You can also see our latest groups and workshops on our Instagram

Alternative Internal Support

You can access self-help through various University channels such as:

  • ShelfHelp, which provides eBooks or physical copies which can help you understand and manage procrastination.
  • SilverCloud, which provides various modules to work through at your own pace to help understand and manage the feelings that come with procrastination using cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.
  • TogetherAll - a safe, online community where people support each other anonymously to improve mental health and wellbeing. (This service is available until February 2023. After this time, we recommend that students reach out to SHOUT).

External Support

If you would like to access some self-help materials here are a list of alternative support resources.

To-do list students (PDF, 1,222 KB)

Revision Planner - students (PDF, 431 KB)