Using Procrastination To Get Work Done

Procrastination is something that we all have found ourselves doing at some point.  Whether it is because we want to avoid writing an arduous 10-page paper, or we feel as if we can cram to complete the assignment in the few hours before it is due.  In any case, procrastination often does not lead to very good outcomes as the quality of work may not be as good as we hoped or we underestimated the time needed to complete it and therefore we are left scrambling at the last minute.  As we all have been told from teachers and other adults, “Don’t wait until last minute to complete your work.”  There is always the idea once a project is assigned, that we will start on it right away and complete it a few days before it is even due.  However, we let procrastination get the best of us and we are left starting and finishing a big project all in one night.  Luckily, new insight has found that we can use our mastery of procrastination and use it to our benefit (Messaye, 2019).

Being in college involves having keen task management skills as students take several classes during the course of one semester and have other responsibilities to tend to besides school.  In order to get our minds ready to start our work, we can begin by making a list.  Lists are an extremely helpful took to organize your priorities based on the amount of effort needed to complete it, or the time you have to complete it (Messaye, 2019).  In this case, making a list that includes what you will do once you get home such as make dinner, watch television, unpack your bag, and organize your work space.  Even though you are technically “procrastinating” and not doing your assignment that is due, you are putting yourself in the right mindset that will allow you to focus on completing your work on time.  Other ways that can be helpful to prepare to start your work is to do activities that ease your mind.  Meditation can be helpful as you calm your mind from the stresses of the day in order to prepare to complete your work.  Other outlets that can be helpful for some include doing the laundry or shopping online  (Messaye, 2019).  Even though this may make someone more distracted and less inclined to do their work, sometimes just scrolling through an online retailer can be therapeutic for someone who procrastinates a lot and can’t immediately jump right in to doing their work.  Other times, if you have a big assignment due the next day along with other minor homework, it may be best to get the smaller assignments done first that don’t require a lot of energy and can be done quickly.  Eventually, when you feel that you are able to concentrate fully on the bigger project, then you can start.  Your mind is now free of all other distractors, you don’t need to worry about doing other homework or having to do laundry.  You can now solely focus on the assignment and be able to complete it in a timely manner.

The one component of productive procrastination that needs to be done in order for this process to work is to make sure you have an eye on the time. Yes, it can be fun to sit on the couch and online shop before doing homework; however, if your allotted 15 minutes to shop turns into a 1- hour shopping spree, then this will not be conducive to completing your work.  There needs to be limits set on how long it will take to do something so that your mind knows that you need to be done within a certain time frame.  If you are making a list of tasks and then you want to organize your work space, you need to give yourself a certain time that this needs to be done by.  Then you can look at the clock and see how much time you have left in order to give your self ample time to complete the big assignment.

Procrastination can be a hindrance to completing tasks on time, but it can also be used to help those with a chronic procrastination problem.  By giving yourself time to clear your mind and to mentally prepare yourself to finish your work, you will be better able to focus on the task and not be distracted by anything else.  This is why productive procrastination can be helpful to those who need some direction into completing their work on time.

-Madison Laezzo


Messaye, B. (2019, October). How to Procrastinate Productively. Retrieved from The Daily Cardinal:


  1. Correction: My apologies. I copy pasted assuming I could edit when I looked up the reference but was unable to do so. Here is the corrected reference, I will remember this error for future posts. Thank you all for your understanding.


    Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing the Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Retrieved from appliedsocialpsychologyschneider&ots=VSGUqd9wWA&sig=axDHxbCztNrHfGCOSQ WCEPa7MiM#v=onepage&q=applied social psychology schneider&f=false.

  2. Upcoming due dates can be an effective means of motivating students to complete their work within a shorter amount of time. Many classmates mentioned fantastic methods for combating procrastination, however, I have found that for myself procrastination is primarily a motivational issue (Gruman, Schneuder, & Coutts, 2016). As an extremely busy mother of two tiny humans I have a limited time window during which I can sit down and work on homework. I wake up motivated to do my homework in the morning, yet by my son’s nap time I want nothing more than a long nap or a beer. At this point, it is a matter of self-motivation and perception of what work needs to get done and how to achieve it. It was my husband who initially suggested the strategy I have found most effective to-date. When writing down all of my assignments, I order them based on the amount of effort they require (as well as due dates). The first thing I do during the week is knock off the ‘low hanging fruit’, drastically reducing the perceived length of my to-do list. By the time the weekend rolls around, I generally have one item left to complete, which leaves me feeling optimistic and motivated to provide my Professor with a quality item. I hope that you also find the strategy that works the most effectively for you during your academic career. Combating procrastination is a very serious struggle and it has not become any easier as I’ve gotten older.


    Gruman, J. A., Schneuder., F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2016). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Socanil and Practical Problems.

  3. Hi Madison,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I thought your comments regarding how to use procrastination to one’s benefit were insightful and reasonable to apply. Many of these tactics are ones that I use, but I did not know these were also ways to use procrastination productively. For instance, at the start of each week, I always make a list of all the assignments I have to do, which class each is for and the specific due date and time for each assignment. I am even able to do this if I am feeling exhausted from the previous week’s work (I make this list every Monday, as my work is typically due on Sunday or Monday), as I know all I have to do is write down what is already present online. Further, I often complete activities I know will help me get in the right mindset for work. For example, I typically set up the documents for each of my papers early in the week, even though I may not write them until later. This helps prepare me and makes me feel like I have already done some of the work when I go to write the actual paper (even though this feeling of already having done some of the work may be somewhat of an illusion, it works for me).

    I would also add that the strategies you mentioned could lead to an improved academic self-concept. Academic self-concept states that “the feelings, attitudes, and perceptions that students hold about their academic ability” affect performance and motivation (Gruman, Schneuder, & Coutts, 2016). Thus, by working on improving procrastination, one’s academic self-concept may also increase. In other words, increased performance is tied to increased academic self-concept. Thus, if one integrates the strategies you mentioned, their academic achievement would also likely increase, leading to improved academic self-concept as well, which will further push productivity and academic success.



    Gruman, J. A., Schneuder., F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2016). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Socanil and Practical Problems.

  4. There are not many people who can say they haven’t procrastinated at one point or the other. Surprisingly, some people perform better under these circumstances, but as you stated you have to question the quality or the potential loss of effort given towards the work. Online learners are particularly prone to falling victim of procrastination because we are given the luxury of completing assignments at our own pace. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. Like you, most online learners work full-time jobs and some have families and other responsibilities to tend to. Unlike the traditional classroom environment, we control when we “attend” class, which provides us the ability to further our education with minimal interruption to our daily lives. Obviously, deadlines and such are to be met, however, there are only so many hours in a day and Sunday seems to approach rather quickly. So, procrastination can easily add unneeded stress to our everyday life. Yet, you’ve raised an interesting point when talking about productive procrastination. Initially, this seemed unreasonable due to the likelihood of someone just extending their “break” longer than allotted. But, if the individual maintains self-disciplined, I can definitely see the advantages to taking a break and approaching a topic with fresh eyes. Maintaining motivation is crucial for online success. “Results indicated that as intrinsic motivation to learn and effort regulation decrease, procrastination increases” (Rakes, & Dunn, 2010). Overall, the responsibility lies in our own hands to not only maintain a schedule but to follow it. This was a great post on a very important topic.

    Dunn, K., & Rakes, G. (2010). The Impact of Online Graduate Students’ Motivation and Self- Regulation on Academic Procrastination. Interactive Online Learning, 9(1), 78–93. Retrieved from

  5. Hi Madison, I unfortunately have struggled with this and being pregnant has made it 10x worse due to being so exhausted. I do live by my To-Do Lists as well and they do help a lot. Very good post!

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