What you can do

Be aware

Reflect on your reasons, habits and thoughts that lead to procrastinating.

Change your outlook

Alter your perspective. Looking at a big task in terms of smaller steps makes it less intimidating. Look for what’s appealing or what you want to get out of an assignment beyond just the grade.

Commit

If you feel really stuck, start simply by committing to complete a small task and write it down. Finish it and reward yourself. Only write down tasks you can completely commit to on your to-do list. Once you write them down, follow through no matter what. By doing so you will slowly rebuild trust in yourself that you will really do what you say you will.

Change your surroundings

When doing school work, choose wisely where and with whom you are working. Repeatedly placing yourself in situations where you don’t get much done and are easily distracted (such as ’studying‘ in your bed, at a café or with friends) can actually be a kind of procrastination.

Focus on goals

Focus on what you want to do, not what you want to avoid. Think about the productive reasons for doing a task by setting positive, concrete and meaningful goals for yourself.

Be realistic

Achieving goals and changing habits takes time and effort; don’t sabotage yourself by having unrealistic expectations that you cannot reasonably meet.

Self-talk

Notice how you are thinking and talking to yourself. Talk to yourself in ways that remind you of your goals and replace old, counter-productive habits of self-talk. Instead of saying, “I wish I hadn’t”, say, “I will.”

Un-schedule

If you feel really stuck, you probably won’t use a schedule that is a constant reminder of all that you have to do. If your attempts to make a schedule have not worked, make an unstructured, flexible schedule in which you slot in only what is necessary. Keep track of all the time you spend working toward your goals, tally it up and reward yourself for it. This can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and increase satisfaction in what you get done

Break down big tasks

Breaking big tasks down into little steps is a good approach. A variation on this is devoting short chunks of time to a big task and doing as much as you can in that time with few expectations about what you will get done. After doing this several times on a big task, you will have made some progress on it and you’ll have less work to do to complete the task.

Online support and apps that help

The Centre for Clinical Intervention has a useful information package designed to help you understand what is helpful and unhelpful about being a perfectionist.

Apps:

To learn techniques to help you sleep better, focus more and get some relief from a busy mind, try Headspace (iOS and Android) or Smiling Mind (iOS).