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Learning Portal - Learning Online: Avoiding Procrastination

Avoiding Procrastination 

This module explains strategies to help fight the desire to procrastinate so that you can get things done. Procrastination—the decision to put off a task that is best started right now— is one of the biggest obstacles to getting things done. When you put tasks off until later, you can end up rushing to finish assignments at the last minute, or running out of time completely.

Top Tips 

✓ Just get started. Motivation builds the closer you get to complete a task. Mustering enough motivation to get things started can be the biggest challenge. Once you have started a task, you will find the task easier to work on.

✓ Change the task to make it more enjoyable. Take a boring task and make a game of it. Some examples: Use flashcards to make studying more interesting, Challenge yourself to get 80% of practice questions correct, Reward yourself after every chapter of assigned reading you finish.

✓ Learn to spot the tricks. Your brain uses tricks to get you to procrastinate, like downplaying the importance of a task or telling yourself that the professor didn’t provide clear instructions. Learn to recognize these tricks so that you aren’t fooled.

✓ Give yourself a time limit. Put a firm time limit on how long you will give yourself to work on a task. Dragging unpleasant tasks out only promotes procrastination. A time limit encourages you to finish the task faster.

✓ Disconnect from your tech. Social media and video games are a breeding ground for procrastination. Every video on YouTube is likely to appear to be a more interesting way to spend your time than the assignment you’re trying to finish. Limit yourself to using only the technology you need to complete your task.

Time robbers are things that trigger procrastination. Everyone has a unique set of time robbers. Watch the video below to learn how to use the Managing Time Robbers tool to help you avoid getting sucked into the procrastination trap. Video by The Learning Portal and College Libraries Ontario, 2016. 

Avoiding Procrastination 

Watch the video to learn how to avoid procrastination. Video by The Learning Portal and College Libraries Ontario, 2020. 


Did you know: Up to 90% of college students report struggling with procrastination.  

We put tasks off by fooling ourselves into believing that we have plenty of time to get them done, that it won’t take long to complete, or that we are better off waiting until we are in a better frame of mind.

In reality, we know that procrastination is the path to stress and poor grades.

Learning to beat procrastination can help improve your grades, and be more successful.

So how do you beat procrastination?

Try these strategies:

If you are avoiding a task because it is difficult, try breaking it into smaller, more manageable tasks.

If you are avoiding a task because it is boring, try making it more enjoyable. Turn the task into a game, or challenge yourself to have a certain amount done in a certain time.

[a hand on screen taps a tablet, as though playing a game. The hand then writes on a sheet of paper the words ‘Flashcards: verbs, adverbs, nouns’.]

If you are avoiding a task because the instructions are unclear, try getting clarification. Having a better understanding of what you need to do will make it easier to start doing it.

[a girl enters her instructor’s office and waves]

Hopefully these tips will help you beat procrastination. Happy studying!

[This video was created by Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario. It is used with permission in The Learning Portal. The Learning Portal is a project from College Libraries Ontario. The Portal provides shared access to resources from all Ontario Colleges, including shared library resources and learner support hubs.]


Unless otherwise stated, the material in this guide is from the Learning Portal created by College Libraries Ontario. Content has been adapted for the NWP Learning Commons in April 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0 International License.

All icons on these pages are from The Noun Project. See individual icons for creator attribution.