Procrastination and Time Management

Our unit on Time Management and Procrastination focuses on the following goals:

  • Assess your tendencies to procrastinate
  • Monitor and evaluate how you use your time
  • Describe motivation and self-regulation strategies that can help you overcome procrastination and manage your time effectively

According to Sapadin and McGuire (1986) there are different variations (styles) of procrastination:

  • Perfectionist: You are unwilling to start a task because you can’t have a perfect result.
  • Dreamer: You dream big, but do not like to actually do the hard work to make these big dreams come true.
  • Worrier: You get stuck in “what ifs” and feel uncomfortable taking risks, making changes, and tolerating discomfort.
  • Defier: You resist starting or completing the tasks that were assigned to you by others.
  • Crisis-Maker: You claim to work better under pressure and do everything at the last minute.
  • Overdoer: You take on too many tasks and responsibilities and cannot establish your priorities.

But more important than knowing your procrastinator type is knowing the main reasons you procrastinate. We started our discussion by challenging the idea that defeating procrastination starts with effective time management. While managing time and tasks is certainly important, procrastination is primarily an emotion management challenge.

We learned that some of the main reasons for procrastination include:

  • Lack of self-confidence
    • False sense of perfectionism
    • Need for acceptance/approval
    • Anticipating the worst
    • Self-judgment
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Rigid Identity (unwillingness to change)
  • Low frustration tolerance
    • Looking for immediate gratification
    • Assuming a passive attitude towards learning
  • Hostility
    • “This is not fair”, “You don’t know what I’m going through”

In addition, lack of motivation and lack of self-regulation are also contributing factors to the procrastinating behavior.

To solve some of the challenges brought by procrastination we proposed engaging in Motivation and Self-regulation strategies:

Motivation Strategies

  • Just get started
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Set realistic goals
  • Clarify directions
  • Start with the easiest part of the task
  • Break down large tasks
  • Recognize difficulty level of certain subjects and tasks
  • Make courses and content relevant
  • Plan rewards

Self-regulation Strategies

  • Create assignment calendars
  • Create To-Do lists and Action Plans
  • Schedule time for yourself
  • Set priorities
  • Avoid over-scheduling
  • Identify your procrastination triggers and avoid them.

Here’s an info graphic, courtesy of, with 15 strategies to defeat procrastination: