Rowan University Wellness Center Intern Shares How College Students Can Break the Procrastination Cycle

Dabany poses in front of the wellness center.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @rowanuwellness on social. This story is by Dabany Garris, senior psychology major with a concentration in child behavioral services.

Procrastination. Take a minute and think about some of the things that come to mind. It is very common for us college students to put off the work we find hard, stressful, boring, or because we simply do not want to do it at that moment knowing there’s still time before its due date. In an article written by Genevieve Carlton, “How to Stop Procrastinating in College”, she mentioned that a 2007 study found that 95% of students have the tendency to put off their schoolwork.  However, procrastination is not just putting off work due to laziness, but rather delaying tasks that will not go away. Without recognition of the ruinous effects procrastinating has on your well-being, you’re hurting more than just your school grades. It is imperative to understand these effects in order to begin searching for academic resources, support from peers, and adopting healthy strategies to combat the habit of procrastination while maintaining your well-being. 

Dabany sits on steps at Rowan, her chin resting on her hand, with a genuine smile.
Wellness Center intern, and this story’s author, Dabany Garris

Without noticing it, you are creating a cycle of anxiety and worry, which may cause you to have difficulty in prioritizing tasks, become disorganized, and have a constant feeling of being behind. The pressure of the pending deadline and work accumulating is more likely to heighten your stress levels. This constant feeling may be in correlation to feeling like there is a lack of control. After indulging in some procrastination, this often leads to last minute cramming and rushing causing heightened stress levels. Time is limited and you may feel overwhelmed, anxious, and rushed to get the work in, which also results in a weaker work ethic. For individuals who are more self aware, procrastination can affect one’s self-esteem as they may begin to view themselves as lazy and incapable because they are not meeting their expectations. This as well may increase stress levels. 

A profile of a student sitting in the library studying.

For the average college student, it is common to pull all-nighters and stay up late nights to get the assignment done by any means. However, this is an unhealthy habit as you’re hurting your body and well-being as well. You may find your sleep patterns are off and you are sleep deprived because of how much you used your brain for hours straight. Sleep deprivation can impact both mental and physical health as cognitive processes like memory, concentration, and decision-making are all affected. Long-term sleep deprivation may significantly raise the risk of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep can also impair your immune system, leaving you more prone to illnesses and infections. Physically, it may interfere with the way hormones are regulated, which could result in weight gain, an increase in appetite, and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

A look down the long, regal hallway of the library.

So with this information, what are the next steps? Utilize a planner, write notes on your computer, create a google calendar, find something that allows you to keep track of your schedule and assignments. Initiation into the task tends to be the difficult part, so allow yourself to start with small simple steps (Carlton 2023). Such as, studying for 15 minutes and increasing that time every time you sit down to study. Knowing your deadlines allows you to plan ahead and space out your assignments (Carlton 2023). You may find it helpful to break up your assignments into smaller tasks such as completing half one day and the other half the next day, because this minimizes the chances of becoming overwhelmed and losing motivation. In doing so, identify the environment you work best in and the time you work best at. While one individual might work well in a quiet environment, others may thrive in a more collective environment. In her article, Carlton suggests to recognize your environment you feel most alert in. Being aware of the type of space you work the best in along with the conditions, creates stability, promotes focus, and increases work productivity. 

A group of students sit together informally, studying.

Create an award system that will serve as your reinforcement for completing tasks (Carlton 2023). Whether that may be reading a book, taking a walk, watching your favorite movies/shows, or socializing with your friends. When you complete the assignment you were dreading, go into it with an open mind and take the break to do things you enjoy. Allow yourself to set those priorities while we’re young now, because this will only benefit you for the rest of your future. 

Source: How to Stop Procrastinating in College: 7 Essential Tips

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