Did you know 80-95% of college students procrastinate on academic work? Are you included in this statistic? If yes, continue reading…If no, continue reading so you can help your fellow procrastinator friends.

A 2007 meta-analysis by the University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel, PhD, reports that 80 percent to 95 percent of college students procrastinate on academic work.

I am no longer a college student but I still find myself cleaning my desk or closet or have an urge to go grocery shopping when I have a deadline for a manuscript or a grant. Procrastination is a universal problem.

Students often procrastinate because they often underestimate the time they need to complete the academic assignment. They also procrastinate because they don’t know how to start the task, don’t believe the task is important/relevant to them, or don’t understand the material at hand and don’t know where and how to get help to understand it. In addition, two of the most surprising causes of procrastination among individuals is excessive perfectionism and a fear of failure. In my case, underestimating the time I need and fear of failure appear to be the main causes of procrastination.

To combat procrastination, regardless of the cause, this is what I recommend:

  • As soon as you are assigned a task (homework, paper, quiz, etc), develop a plan and timeline for it. For instance, if you have a homework assignment that is due in 4 weeks, develop a plan and timeline with specific deadlines now (not tomorrow, NOW).
  • Your plan should have concrete and achievable landmarks. For instance, your plan may include: “By 10 pm tonight, I will read the assignment once”, “By such date (be specific), I will do the literature search and the reading”, etc.
  • Your plan should also include dedicated time for the assignments such as “4:00 to 5:00 pm on 4/10/19, reading papers”.
  • Assign little prizes and breaks. For instance, you may say: “If I meet this deadline, I will watch TV or YouTube videos for half hour”.
  • Adhere to your timeline. If you missed one deadline, try to do it as soon as you can (not tomorrow, NOW).


Remind yourself that by not procrastinating for academic work, you will have more time for other things (i.e., sleep, exercise, spending time with friends) and you will have better academic outcomes (i.e., better grades and GPA).

Additional recommended reading:

4 Main Causes of Procrastination Revealed