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One of the main reasons we lack motivation to study is that we procrastinate. With the saying “I will do it later” or “I will do it tomorrow” looming in our head. But why do we procrastinate? There could be any number of reasons why we think we procrastinate. Perhaps the topic is boring, or you are waiting for the perfect time to start. Maybe the task has become so overwhelming you just don’t know where to start. Or perhaps you have even convinced yourself that the work is way beyond your abilities. People often assume procrastination is due to laziness, lack of motivation or lack of will power.

However, the real answer if far more complex than that, it has a great deal to do with the cognitive mechanism that we use to self-regulate our behaviour. So, when we need to perform a task, we rely on our self-control in order to get this done. In addition, our motivation can provide a well needed boost for our self-control. Our motivation is based on the desire for completing a task due to the perceived outcome. However, procrastination happens when demotivating factors come into play such as fear of failure or anxiety and this can have a significant effect on the task at hand.

Procrastination can have a huge impact on our lives weather it is a simple task we put off or whether it the source that is stopping us from achieving our goals. To deal with procrastination the first thing you need to figure out is how this is stopping you from achieving your goal. Secondly, break the material into chunks. When we see the full task at hand, we often become very overwhelmed, if we reduce what we need to do often the task can seem more bearable. Next, reward yourself. We often focus solely on the task at hand and forget to reward ourselves for what we have done so far.

If these don’t seem to work for you, other ideas can be:

  • Focus on your goals instead of on your tasks
  • Avoid being a perfectionist.
  • Mark of streaks on a calendar when you complete a task
  • Set concrete deadlines.
  • Remove possible distractions from your environment.
  • Start of small, even 5 minutes on a task is better than 0

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.

Solomon, L. J., & Rothblum, E. D. (1984). Academic procrastination: Frequency and cognitive-behavioral correlates. Journal of counseling psychology31(4), 503.