Lecture delivered by Ismail Sogbade
at The AMETS Intellectual Forum, LAUTECH
15th April, 2016
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that
needs to be done. Emotions create the blockage, and
reasons for procrastination which include feelings of
guilt, inadequacy, depression, and self-doubt. Poor
organizational skills compound the problem by making
even small steps to complete the task difficult to
What is Procrastination?
Reasons for procrastination include:
Fear of failure.
Lack of interest in the task.
Feelings of anger or hostility toward someone—usually the one who gave you the assignment
The impression that the task is too time consuming—the task will take large blocks of time, and
nothing can be done until you have one large chunk of time.
Lack of knowledge or skill.
Low self-confidence and low self-esteem.
Too busy—real or imagined.
Stubbornness—"Don't think you can tell me what and when to do it."
Manipulation—procrastination may be used to control or manipulate the behavior of others.
Types of Chronic Procrastination
Thrill seekers wait until the last minute to complete the task to get a “rush.” They
believe they work better under pressure.
Unfortunately, when you wait for the last minute, the work you produce is often of
inferior quality—because there is no time to make corrections.
Avoidance procrastination occurs for many reasons, including avoiding perceived
unpleasant tasks; fear of the completion of the task will be a reflection of self-worth,
lack of self-confidence in ability; or fear that successful completion of the task will
instill high expectations for future performance on similar tasks.
Avoidance procrastinators may prefer being viewed as lacking in effort instead of
lacking in ability when they fail.
Recognize that you have the ability to be in control and then make a commitment
to yourself to change.
• To learn a new habit, set up a new routine that contrasts with the old one. Create
reminders to keep yourself on task, and announce your new plans to friends for their
• Practice, practice, practice the new habit.
• When you make exceptions, it takes much more effort to recover control than to
maintain it from the beginning—it is like binging during a diet.
Set deadlines for yourself and keep them – use reminder notes!
Break down big projects into smaller steps and set deadlines for each part.
Tell people about your deadlines, so they can check up on you.
Set up a reward system for each part and then reward yourself when you have
completed a deadline – Give yourself a treat!
Curing the Procrastination Blues
Ask yourself questions to determine why you are procrastinating.
• Is this a recent or reoccurring pattern?
• What is the root cause? Fear? Avoidance? Self-confidence? Perfectionism?
• Is this a personal problem beyond school?
• Is it the assignment the problem or placing social activities over school activities?
• Are you afraid to be labeled a “nerd”?
Do you think that college is just an extension of high school, and you can get away with
incomplete work without consequences?
Change your self-statements and restructure your thoughts to take responsibility for your actions.
These statements blame others for your failure:
◦ It’s not my fault. . . .
◦ I could have done it, but. . . .
◦ Yes, it was due, however. . . .
◦ Yes, but. . . .
Focus on when and where external attributes versus internal attributes may cause the problem.
Could you have avoided the problem by beginning earlier?
Bits and Pieces
Focus on the smaller subsets of the task, rather than the entire task. Write out the steps
necessary to complete the steps and then go through them step-by-step.
The “5-Minute” Plan
Break the task 5-minute subsets and do them step-by-step. This is for people who prefer
to have a set amount of time to work on things.
80% Success Rule
Be realistic with your goals. Complete at least 80% of the task. This is a good start, and
after completing the 80% you know you can go further and complete the whole task.
Social Support of Task Completion
Seek help from people who complete tasks. Build a social network of support, so there is
someone who can push you on when you lose sight of the goal.
Think of one thing you are currently procrastinating doing. Write
the task on a sheet of paper. It might be personal, school, or work-
Now write all the reasons for your delay. Take five or ten minutes
because some of them may be hidden from you. These reasons are
the controlling influences. Write down as many as possible.
List arguments against delay and argue against all the reasons for
delay in a convincing manner. If you can argue against them
successfully, you will be able to start the task.
Practice What You've Learned
Plan for tomorrow and establish priorities—some students find that
simply writing down reasonable starting and stopping times help them get
going – wrist watch during exams (start/stop time)
Expect some backsliding. Occasionally, your plans will not work. Accept
the setbacks and start again. Do not fixate on failure, but rather learn from
it. Why did you have the setback—now figure out how to prevent them in
Take control by learning new habits:
Understand why you are procrastinating, so observe what you do (or don’t do)
and then determine the underlying cause.
When you know the cause, focus on ways to overcome your procrastination.
Create a plan and then practice the new habits until they become a part of you.
Break tasks down to small steps
Learn how long it takes to do a task
Find models to emulate
Practice, practice, practice good habits
Don’t beat yourself up if you backslide, just start practicing the new habits again.