How to Combat Academic Procrastination

Academic procrastination is a common issue amongst all ages, especially teenagers. This happens whenever a student postpones his/her completion of projects, assignments, and other educational activities.

This procrastination may not only create unnecessary anxiety and stress but leave the students struggling to submit college applications. Several factors associated with academic procrastination include

  • Indecision

  • Fear of failure

  • Lack of motivation

  • High-stress level

  • Poor organizational skills

  • Poor coping mechanisms

  • Peer influence

How to Help Teenagers Combat Academic Procrastination

Here are some direct approaches to address procrastination amongst teenage students.

  • In order to help teenage students beat academic procrastination, encourage them to simplify tasks into lists, staying focused on one-thing-at-a-time. Time Management has a vital role to play in defeating academic procrastination.

  • Motivation is the key for students, especially during the COVID times. Therefore, help students visualize the bigger picture and how much they can achieve when small tasks add up. Relate current tasks to how they prepare for the future they imagine.

  • Clearly written assignments provide students a full-circle understanding of why to do tasks on time. Keep communications short and direct. Bullet point the what, why, how with a clear definition of what qualifies as having completed the task. (thank you CounselMore for my assignments package).

  • A motivation for anyone is to see their progress with their own eyes. Doing their assignments on time achieves bonus points. As a wise woman said, "eyes on the prize."

  • Deadlines and penalties are often unsuccessful motivational strategies. However, when a person made a personal agreement with themself to do/don't a task, the results can be more than positive.

  • Deadline poking can be a helpful reminder tool, use a software (my choice is CounselMore) to set reminders for assignments and due dates. Steady reminders along the way leads to better results than penalties for past due tasks.

Don't hesitate to deploy a direct approach, or you will most likely find yourself buried neck deep into last-minute submissions. We counselors talk a big game about boundaries and deadlines but I've never seen a counselor walk away from a student, not even at 11pm the night of a deadline. Being direct might sting but you are helping everyone involved.

Get yourself organized too! We can't be so bold as to tell others what to do when we are disorganized, have little standardization of service delivery and superhero our way through application season each year!

Create a business process (nevermind plan, you need a process). Know what you need from the student at each phase or step and take each student through the same set of steps. If that seems like a good idea to you and sounds like a lot of work, you're right! Your alternative is chasing after each student, email, timeline, deadline, password, transcript... without a plan like a dog chasing its own tail; spinning, each app season. There's no excuse for not having a plan when CounselMore not only has a plan but serves it up on a silver platter.

Take the bull of procrastination by its horns and try a more deliberate approach to beating procrastination for our students and ourselves.

-Brandi Marcioni

After majoring in English literature and then mastering in education, I planned to embark on an academic writing career. I sobered up to the reality of life as an academic and now serve students and families as they navigate the many choices to consider after high school. If I could have majored in college counseling, I would have found my calling sooner.