– Discussion was one in a series designed to increase student success –
PHOTO: A view inside the Millennium Student Center at UMSL. Photo by Cate Marquis for The Current ©


By Mary Chickos, Staff Writer for The Current

Mary Fischer, MEd, Student Retention Services staff member, did a one-hour workshop on”Winning the Procrastination Battle” on September 16, at 3 p.m. in room 225 of the Millennium Student Center. She referred to procrastination as something that everyone does and noted that there are ways to minimize the habit, so that it does not limit academic or workplace success. Then, she handed out several worksheets in the workshop to help students to identify procrastination habits, as well as to help them identify favorite procrastination beliefs.

She said that procrastination affects all of us in different ways. The possible causes include lack of interest in the task, anxiety about not being able to do the assignment, ambiguous directions, fear of the unknown and the inability to handle the current task. Students also may not be motivated to do the work, or they run out of time. Her strategies to help event attendees eliminate these problems included taking control of the project, making a to-do list, estimating time accurately and splitting up big assignments into smaller parts.

When it came to timing, she suggested that it would be helpful for students to consider schedule adjustments. This includes varying the amount of time needed for a project and knowing when they will be most efficient. Come up with a game plan to attack the project, be flexible and make changes as necessary. Just getting started on a big project will help to figure out how to break the assignment into smaller, more manageable pieces.

To help with mastery of the project, she suggested creating personal rewards or little incentives to help push through undesirable tasks. Take breaks as much as possible and use a timer to help keep track of time lapsed. It may be helpful to find a work buddy or use a tutor. Partnering with a fellow classmate can also be a great way to study and complete work. It helps to have someone to give support or feedback. This topic segued into a small blurb about the importance of prioritization and work environment. One should consider the current environment and numerically rank tasks by importance in order to be most productive. Also, try to avoid noise and visual distractions, and be aware of the time spent on the phone or online.

Workshop participants then proceeded to write out challenge statements and solutions for them. For example, one challenge statement was, “I have so much to do, I do not know where to start.” The solution for this was to pick out the parts that they can do and get started on them. Another challenge statement was “I am going to take the time to think about the instructions and figure out how to do this.” A suggested solution was to make a list of pieces that can be done now. What may have been the most common challenge was , “There are a lot of steps to this assignment.” The popular suggestion was to decide which step to do first and create a plan for how to get it done. Another workshop dealt with the most common ideologies that lead to procrastination.

The top ten favorite procrastination beliefs from the worksheet included:
It is not due yet.
I work better under pressure.
It is too late in the day.
I am too tired.
I do not feel like doing it now.
I have a headache.
I really mean to do it, but I keep forgetting.
I am too busy right now.
It is a boring job.
It is too nice a day to spend doing that.

Regardless of whether a person was trying to avoid the procrastination battle or already knee deep in it, the major objective given was not letting the task become bigger than it is or should be. Doing something is better than doing nothing, ask for help when needed and have the self-confidence to know it can be done!

© The Current 2014