Living@Guelph - Choose Your Own Adventure Living
By Holly Robertshaw

Procrastination has got to be one of the largest traps that first year students can fall into. The best things you can do as a new student is to know the signs and symptoms of procrastination so you can do your best to prevent it from becoming worse and to be proactive in your approach to managing your time.

First, let's look at some signs and symptoms of procrastination:

  • Sitting on your butt watching mindless television convincing yourself that after this show you'll get to it.
  • Talking about how you're going to do it and how you have it all planned out, yet don't take the steps to initiate the action.
  • Realizing that your room needs to be cleaned from top to bottom before any work gets done.
  • Rationalizing to yourself that you really don't have that much to do and that it all can be done in the four hours before its due.
  • Procrastinating even more.

    First aid for procrastination:

  • The most important step in the treatment of procrastination is realizing that it is going on and then making the decision to actively correct it.
  • Once the decision has been make to correct it, immediately take physical action; open the textbook, start the journal search and SET REASONABLE GOALS. Read the first 10 pages of the text or find 3 articles that you want to read for your project. Often it is getting started that most students dread, and once it's going, the rest seems to go much smoother.
  • PLAN to do work on it the next day, and again, keep reasonable goals.
  • Remind yourself that the pain of handing in an assignment late or doing poorly on a test is much worse than the pain associated with starting the work.
  • Start with the same plan as soon as new assignments come up. Eventually, the pleasure of doing well will come from doing the work!


  • Be proactive! Clean your room while you still have time. If you're anticipating a tough week, clean your room BEFORE the week starts so it won't be on your mind.
  • Plan your activities a month in advance. Use a big dry-erase calendar and write in when you have projects due, chapters to be read, midterms, etc… Set mini-goals for yourself e.g.: 2 weeks before the report is due, have your rough draft done. 1 week before its due, have 2 people read it over and make changes to it. This way, you won't feel like you're doing everything all at once and the quality of your work will be better.
  • Make good use of time between classes. You'll be surprised at what you can accomplish in that hour or two between class. Using the time between classes wisely can help you make the grade.
  • Stay away from people who encourage you to stray from your plan. People who urge you to take time away from your studies don't really care about what's best for you.
  • Listen to your friends. If they say they don't want to go out because they have work to do, don't make them say it twice.

    What to do if your procrastination is getting worse:

  • There are a number of on-campus resources available to you. Take action. Go to the Learning Commons in the library and talk to a Peer Helper who can assist you in planning your time and help you to develop better time management skills. There are also workshops focusing on learning strategies to study for exams and in preparing for specific courses.
  • Talk to people you know who seem to have it together. Find out what they do to stay on task and model your plan after theirs. Do not go to other procrastinators for sympathy…they'll suck you in.