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Overcoming Procrastination
Source: Michael Olpin, Associate Professor, Health Promotion & Human Performance, Weber State University, Ogden, UT

Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished.

This can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt. Procrastination has a high potential for painful consequences. It interferes with our academic, professional and personal success. The reasons for procrastination are many, with the basic ones being perfectionism, fantasizing, fear, crisis making, anger, overdoing, and pleasure seeking. The following are tips for overcoming procrastination:

Turn Elephants into Hors d’oeuvres – When you just can not seem to get started on a project, try breaking it down into smaller tasks and do just one of the smaller tasks or set a timer and work on the big task for just 15 minutes. If you know your thirty-page term paper is due in one month, start today by picking your topic or writing a rough outline. By doing a little at a time, you won’t feel so overwhelmed and eventually you'll reach a point where you will want to finish.

Research Highlight – Procrastinators Finish Last

In studies with students taking a health psychology course, researchers found that although procrastinating provided short-term benefits, including periods of low stress, the tendency to dawdle had long-term costs, including poorer health and lower grades. Early in the semester, the procrastinators reported less stress and fewer health problems than students who scored low on procrastination. However, by the end of the semester, procrastinators reported more health-related symptoms, more stress, and more visits to health-care professionals than nonprocrastinators. They also received significantly lower grades on term papers and exams.

Procrastinators Always Finish Last, Even in Health. American Psychological Monitor, Vol. 20, No. 1, January, 1998 – reported in Hales, 2003