We all procrastinate, so it is no surprise that students do as well. However, the difference is that we want our children, our students, to manage life better than we do, and that means learning how to avoid procrastination. So, before a problem can be solved, it needs to be diagnosed – so let’s diagnose:
Procrastination Comes in All Excuses and Fears...
What is Time Management Anyway?
Procrastination means not managing time wisely. Students may be uncertain of their goals, overwhelmed with the task, confused about directions – and the list goes on. As a result, they keep putting off their academic assignments for a later date, or spending a great deal of time with their friends and social activities, or worrying about their upcoming examination, class project and papers rather than completing them. But worrying is not an action - it is a reaaction. Get students into action!
I Can't Concentrate!
Their environment may be distracting and noisy – their mind may wander over boyfriends, social media, and friends. Their desk may be cluttered and unorganized and sometimes they may sit/lay on their bed to study or do assignments. They need an "office" area to work well and productively.
What If I Fail?
They may be overwhelmed with the task and afraid of getting a failing grade. As a result, they spend a great deal of time worrying about their upcoming exams, papers and projects, rather than completing them. Negative Beliefs such as "I cannot succeed in anything" and "I lack the necessary skills to perform the task" may allow them to stop themselves from getting work done.
I Think the Assignment is Boring.
This can often be a defense mechanism for not understanding the task or negative beliefs.
I Know I'm Going to Get a Low Grade.
Students may think that if they don't get an 'A', they are a failure. Or that if they fail an exam, they, as a person, are a failure, rather than that they are a perfectly ok person who has failed an exam. And that is a problem that can be solved.
How to Solve the Problem of Procrastination
- Keep a calendar of assignments and learn how to backwards map so that the students know how much time an assignment will take him or her.
- Create a work space in their bedroom that is separate from their bed or where they listen to music, play video games, or watch TV. Literally getting up and moving to a “new station” makes all the difference in the world because it changes the mind’s sequencing and tasking.
- For fear, anxiety, and negative beliefs, all that it takes is a little success – and sometimes that is where tutoring comes into the picture. Just the experience of one-on-one learning helps the student learn to trust himself or herself in a particular subject and provides what a classroom experience cannot.
- Boredom is a defense mechanism for not being able to do an assignment or not having the skills to do it. Again this can often be addressed with tutoring and the development of base line skills in a subject in which a student had previously considered himself or herself a failure.
- Grades are not the objective – they are the byproduct of developing skills and learning how to learn. Helping a student see that and experience that is the best way to address this issue. So, procrastination goes away, and belief in self and development of skills begins to “happen”.