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Preventing procrastination

Last modified on 21-07-2022 15:51
Procrastination can have a detrimental effect on your studies. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent procrastination.
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'Just one more episode of that TV series, then I’ll get down to revising for my exam.' 'Okay, just let me check my emails and Instagram, then I’ll really make a start.' Does this sound familiar? If so, you probably have an issue with procrastination.

Assimilating and processing material takes a lot of energy. You have to force your brain, which prefers to drift from one thing and another, to concentrate. The harder the subject matter, the more likely it is that you will lose the battle. There’s always so much else to do: the washing-up, calling mum, having a beer… Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. 

Procrastination not only has a negative effect on your self-confidence, it also stops you from enjoying your free time. Because you know you should really be studying. Ultimately, you go to bed frustrated, dissatisfied and tired. 


You can prevent procrastination by drawing up a manageable, realistic plan. That way, you know where you are and you can prioritise. Check out the tips on planning when drawing up your plan. 

Tackle excuses for procrastination

'There’s always tomorrow.' 'I can only perform when I’m under pressure.' 'Today is already over.' These are just some of the excuses that we use to put off getting down to work. 

Be aware of the excuses that you use. Write them down and ask yourself: is my day really over or do I still have time? You’ll probably feel more motivated tomorrow if you do something useful today. In a nutshell, debunk your excuses and replace them with a motivating alternative.

Reward yourself

Research indicates that rewards work better than punishments. Think of ways you could reward yourself after you’ve done an hour of focused study. You could allow yourself a really tasty sandwich, fetch yourself a coffee or even go on Instagram, for example.

Tackle anxiety

Fear of failure encourages procrastination. It’s easy to think with hindsight that you didn’t succeed at something because you didn’t spend enough time on it. But in the long term this type of self-protection will not serve you well. 

Even if you’re scared of failing, the best course of action is to get down to work and to break the cycle of avoidance. You will notice that the stress you are feeling decreases and that you can study more easily. For more tips on dealing with stress, see the page on dealing with exam stress.

Training courses and workshops

The UvA provides additional support through information meetings, workshops, training courses and groups. You can learn more about these by clicking on training courses and workshops.


UvA's psychologists

You can turn to the UvA’s student psychologists for help with study-related problems or personal issues interfering with your studies. You do not need a referral from your GP. For an overview of our workshops and groups go to Psychological guidance on the Training, workshops and groups page.

Contact details