Conquer Academic Procrastination: Strategies to Succeed and Thrive

Posted by
Carl Peters
March 14, 2023

Procrastination can be a major issue for academic researchers, especially when it comes to completing tasks. This type of procrastination is commonly referred to as the 'Student Syndrome' and involves pressure that can be overwhelming, leading to a sense of paralysis and avoidance. However, there are several strategies that researchers can use to combat academic procrastination and improve their performance.

One effective approach is to break tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. When faced with a large assignment or project, it can be tempting to put it off until the last minute. However, by breaking it down into smaller tasks by using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS; see the Pathfinder framework for an example of a WBS), researchers can make progress in a more manageable way. For example, a research paper can be divided into steps such as selecting a topic, gathering sources, outlining the paper, and drafting individual sections. By further breaking them down into even smaller, more manageable tasks, researchers can avoid feeling overwhelmed and make steady progress towards completion.

Another useful strategy is to use time management to structure work sessions. Many researchers struggle with time management, often spending hours working without making much progress. By using to do lists, calendars, or a Kanban board, and focusing solely on the task at hand during that time, researchers can increase their productivity and avoid distractions. Similarly, by scheduling work and sticking to a consistent routine, researchers can create a sense of structure and accountability that helps them stay on track.

Underlying causes of procrastination should also be addressed. For example, researchers may be procrastinating due to anxiety about their academic performance, fear of failure, or lack of motivation. Addressing these underlying issues can help researchers overcome procrastination and improve their academic performance. This may involve seeking support from a counselor, seeking academic tutoring (for students), or taking steps to increase motivation and self-efficacy.

Creating a conducive work environment is also important. This may involve adopting a Lean mindset which includes setting up a clean and organized workspace with minimal distractions, such as turning off notifications on a phone or computer. By creating a Lean environment that promotes focus and productivity, researchers can reduce the temptation to procrastinate.

Finally, holding oneself accountable is crucial in combating academic procrastination. This may involve sharing goals and progress with a friend or team member, using effective time management, or seeking out an accountability partner. By taking steps to hold oneself accountable, researchers can increase their motivation and stay on track towards academic success.

Overall, academic procrastination can be a major challenge for researchers, but it is possible to overcome it with persistence and the right strategies. By breaking tasks into smaller parts, using effective time management, addressing underlying causes, creating a conducive environment, and holding oneself accountable, researchers can overcome academic procrastination and achieve their academic goals.