Procrastination is an ever-present challenge in the university environment. Graphic provided by The All State. | THE ALL STATE

One of the biggest problems college students face today is procrastination. Almost every college student has dealt with. They have a huge project due or a test coming up, and they put it off until last minute or they don’t study or do the work at all. Been there, done that. The question remains, why do people procrastinate, and what can be done to fix it?

The first thing one must understand is that procrastination isn’t just laziness repackaged. Procrastination is actually the result of mental-emotional regulation. It is when a person prioritizes the short-term mood over the long-term ramifications, even when it’s not logical to do so.

And, of course, most people know it’s not logical to put off a 20 page research report. So, why do people still do it?

There are six major types of procrastinators, all motivated to put off work by very different factors.

  • The perfectionist fears not having top-quality work, so it becomes better to have incomplete work or no work at all.
  • The dreamer can come up with the work all day long, but struggles to put pen to paper.
  • The worrier fears change and decision-making, so they avoid work that forces them to embrace such choices. Important to note, this is also a decision being made, albeit a poor one.
  • The crisis-maker, a form of procrastination seen often in people with ADHD, can’t work without an emotional boost or adrenaline, so they wait until last minute to ensure they get this.
  • The defier doesn’t want to follow the rules that they didn’t set, so they put off work as a rebellion.
  • The over-doer fails to say “no” and ends up with too many ideas, unable to give each one the focus that it truly needs.

In all of these cases, procrastination is fueled by different forms of the same short-term emotion. Understanding why one procrastinates is the first step needed to stop procrastinating. The next step is to address it and the work that lies ahead.

Regardless of which type of procrastinator you are, it’s always good to start small and break down work into a smaller series of steps and goals. By setting smaller goals, it becomes easier to meet them one-by-one. It also removes the need to worry about the decision, as the answers are laid out plain and simple. This also keeps you playing on your own terms, rather than the terms of someone else.

Setting benchmarks often ensures that quality of work is higher, too, as taking it one step at a time means more devotion towards each step. More time and effort generates better work, and that work will be much closer to the perfection that propels the perfectionist.

However, even when the work isn’t perfect, it is important to know that is also okay. Often times, the work is not what is stressful, but the perfectionists’ own standards.

Similarly, by completing smaller goals, the crisis-maker can get miniature dopamine and adrenaline rushes from completing each task before they become daunting, while still maintaining the rush that he or she craves.

As for the over-doer, breaking tasks into smaller steps ranked by importance can help prioritize work over smaller, less important commitments. Still, in the long-term, the over-doer needs to address why they can’t say no, so that they are less stressed.

It is also key to remember that putting off tasks almost always means that the final product is of lower quality, not to mention the other negative impacts of procrastination.

“I feel like I always have so much to do and I can’t ever get ahead on schoolwork no matter how much I want to,” said APSU sophomore Julia Freeman.

Doing it once makes procrastinators feel bad enough, but letting that guilt spiral and lead them right back to procrastination only lets it grow worse over time. Not to mention, it makes it much easier to continue that road.

That is why it is so important to address the issue early and start working towards change. New study habits won’t be born overnight, but there has to be a starting point. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the bricks were laid by the hour.