Procrastination: Why Wait?

Procrastination and the Online Student

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Procrastination: Why Wait?

Do you find yourself putting off the inevitable? Have you ever finished a project just seconds before its due date? Is your mantra, “There’s always tomorrow?” Then you might be a procrastinator. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at the effects procrastination can have on our lives, as well as some tips for online learners.

Which Type Are You?

Procrastination is not necessarily an issue with time management, but the inability to estimate how much time a task actually takes.

Four types of procrastinators

The Thrill Seekers: Enjoy the rush of just barely finishing a task on time

The Avoiders: End up waiting because of fear of disapproval or failure

The Undecided: Have trouble making decisions and sticking with them

The Impulsive: Have low self-discipline and are easily distracted


Percentage of people who identify as “chronic procrastinators” (1)

80% to 95%

Percentage of college students who procrastinate (2)

The Side Effects of Stalling

Pushing back deadlines can put unnecessary stress on your body. This can have both short- and long-term effects on your overall health. Chronic stress can …

… make you more prone to heart disease and hypertension.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. (3)

… give you digestive issues.

15.9 million Americans are diagnosed with ulcers each year, often due to stress. (4)

… lower your immune system.

Those under long-term stress can experience slow wound healing and higher risks of viral and bacterial infections. (5)

… keep you from sleeping.

1 in 10 adults in the U.S. has chronic insomnia. (6)

… make you depressed.

44% of college students in the U.S. admit they experience symptoms of depression. (7)

Constant procrastination can also negatively affect: (8)

  • Relationships with others
  • Career opportunities
  • Self-confidence
  • Grades

Tips for Online Students

Students prone to procrastination should consider the following tips. (9)

Be specific in your goals. Making a goal of “write term paper” is too broad. Start with something specific, like “collect six academic resources from online library.”

Break down the task into smaller tasks. A paper or presentation or even a reading can be broken down into smaller parts and assigned different time goals. This keeps the whole project from looming over you as one giant, unmanageable task.

Only focus on the task at hand. Don’t look to the future and get overwhelmed by all the steps.

Reward yourself when small tasks are completed. Tell yourself you can take a half hour break for every small task that is completed. Do something fun and relaxing.

Make a schedule and stick to it. Mark down the specific times that week you can devote to getting a project done. Don’t simply mark out the whole week, as this will feel daunting.

Figure out how long each small task will take. Generally estimating time is how procrastinators get into trouble. When you’re researching, writing, or reading, keep track of how long the task is taking. This will help you make a schedule for future projects.

Be realistic and acknowledge your limits. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and plan hours and hours of work time. But if you find yourself unable to keep up, it’s OK to amend your schedule a little.