TIP #38: Help Students Avoid Project Procrastination

TIP #38 Help Students Avoid Project Procrastination

Many students experience “project procrastination” when beginning a new assignment. And it’s no surprise… procrastination is a universal problem that affects young and old alike. 

When a student procrastinates it doesn’t mean they don’t care about their work… in fact, it usually indicates the opposite. Procrastination can be a sign that a student is confused or unsure about how to begin.

It can also be a coping mechanism for avoiding the negative feelings of uncertainty, self-doubt, or fear of failure. Whatever the reason, it’s common to see students procrastinate when getting started on a new project. 

Learning to embrace mistakes is an important life skill that can help kids avoid project procrastination. Combine this with the 4 steps below and your students will be on their way to becoming anti-procrastinators.

Following these steps will help your students avoid project procrastination…

1. Get organized.

Rather than just diving into a project, most students will do well to take a moment to prepare. Feeling prepared helps remove the barriers of confusion and distraction.

This is the time to clarify directions and ask questions. A demo will help your visual learners, as well as eliminate uncertainty and provide motivation for all your students. 

Gathering their supplies in advance will prevent the interruption of having to stop working to get what they need. Developing the habit of being organized can be a game-changer for students.

2. Break large projects into manageable steps.

You can avoid overwhelming your students by clearly dividing larger projects into a series of smaller tasks. Prioritize the key elements to let kids know what’s most important. Show them where the greatest amount of their time should be spent.

3. Set deadlines.

Rather than having one deadline for the whole project, establish a due date for each step along the way. Holding kids accountable for due dates will help them develop healthy pacing and time management skills.

4. Get started.

Once students are organized with their objectives clearly laid out in front of them, all that’s left is to begin! It’s easier for kids to keep going when they feel prepared and have a plan for how to tackle the steps ahead. 

In her best-selling book, The 5-Second Rule (affiliate link) author Mel Robbins suggests counting down from “5″ to break a procrastination habit. Then from there, forward motion encourages more forward motion. 

5. Reap the benefits.

Helping students break the pattern of procrastination will serve them well their entire lives. 

Most of us won’t have time to do everything we want to do in life. But we will have time to do what’s most important. Teaching students to determine priorities and follow the steps above will help them use the time they have wisely.

For a creative look at procrastination, check out Tim Urban’s famous TED Talk, “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator”. With his humorous (yet insightful) approach, he suggests that everyone procrastinates on some things. You may recognize your students, or even yourself, in this entertaining talk!

an inspiring quote:

“It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”  

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

In many cases, the only way out of a task you’re dreading is through it. The sooner you start, the sooner it’s behind you. When the work is truly unpleasant, it makes sense not to prolong doing it. Once students realize the truth in this, they may be less likely to put things off when they feel like procrastinating.

a question worth considering:

Which of these steps might be helpful for something you’ve been procrastinating?