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Avoiding procrastination

Do you put off tasks until it becomes a problem? Here you will find advice and support to help you to tackle procrastination.

If you delay important, planned projects even though there is a threat of negative consequences, you are procrastinating. This is known colloquially as suffering from «putting-off-itis». We are all affected by it to a certain extent from time to time. If putting things off becomes chronic and is accompanied by massive negative consequences, we talk in psychology about procrastination.

Procrastination is relatively widespread, especially during the course of study. Some students, for example, tend to regularly put off exam preparations or written work. This can cause those affected to have a guilty conscience, feelings of shame or even fear of failure. The negative feelings are compensated for with substitute activities that make them feel good in the short term. For example, cleaning the kitchen, tidying the desk or chatting on the internet.

If you keep putting off an activity, this not only gives rise to negative feelings, but also to increasing pressure to perform and meet expectations. This leads to stress and ultimately to a decrease in what is known as self-efficacy. One gradually loses the conviction that one can successfully overcome a challenge or a difficult situation by one's own efforts.

If this feeling increasingly affects one's personal well-being or coping with everyday life, it is advisable to take action to counteract the underlying problem – procrastination. This can only be done by trying to change one's own behaviour.

Steps against procrastination

What can you do? How can you avoid procrastination? Follow this short guide step by step:

  1. Choose a specific task that you often put off.
  2. Observe yourself over several days: find out under what conditions you avoid the task and under what conditions you deal with it.
  3. Define the smallest and most concrete steps possible to be taken next in the task.
  4. For each of these steps define a precise time every day, a clear time span and a clear place where it should be done.
  5. Be careful not to take on more than you can accomplish.
  6. Use reminders (e.g. an alarm clock) so that you seize the opportunities and implement the steps.
  7. Afterwards, evaluate how the strategy worked and what difficulties, if any, were encountered.
  8. Reward yourself afterwards, even for small successes.

How strongly are you affected by procrastination?

A scientifically based online test can help you find out the extent of your procrastination. A team of researchers from the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster designed this self-test for procrastination. The test takes about 25 minutes and allows you to rank your tendency to procrastinate in comparison to those of other people:

Books on procrastination

Many procrastinators are masters at deceiving themselves. Not only do they fool themselves into thinking they are about to start work - they often delude themselves for years about their own dissatisfaction. This book is intended to help you achieve goals, develop enjoyment at work and enjoy leisure time without a guilty conscience.

Procrastination – reasons and mechanisms. Feelings, conflicts, deep-seated reasons. Techniques and tips to counteract procrastination.

Counselling and support

Our brochure «Rather today than tomorrow – solution strategies against procrastination» contains a comprehensive description of various tips and methods against procrastination. You can obtain the printed brochure from us free of charge. You can also borrow other books on the subject from our library.

You can also come to us for individual counselling on how to take better control of your procrastinating behaviour. Our counselling is free and confidential and can be arranged by telephone.

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  • Counselling services (overview)

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