By the end of reading week, Kimberly Boissiere was feeling overwhelmed.
She had left most of her assignments to complete at the end of the week, and the mounting pressure of looming deadlines was getting to her.
Boissiere, an immigration and settlement graduate student at Ryerson University, is one of many post-secondary students who frequently experiences procrastination.
Procrastination, which is the voluntary action of postponing something that needs to be done, is a phenomena that affects between 80 and 90 per cent of students, according to a 2015 study.
Jenny Liu, a psychology professor at Ryerson University, says there are a variety of factors that may lead to procrastination.
“Perfectionistic tendencies or feeling like we can’t do something until we can do a perfect job on it can be a big contributor to procrastination,” she said. “If we feel anxious, like we are not able to perform, or have low confidence in our abilities, we can also engage in procrastination.”
Liu explains there are also external factors that stem from pressures related to family members having high expectations, or cultures that value academic achievements.
She recommends addressing the fundamental reasons of procrastination in order to combat it because everyone experiences it differently.
“Depending on what sources contribute to our procrastination, we could aim to address those, and indirectly reduce procrastination,” Liu said.
She suggests dividing giant tasks into smaller, more manageable goals, adding that breaking a task up into smaller sections will help reduce the perception of a huge undertaking. It’s also important to celebrate every step of the process as “it builds up self-esteem and confidence,”she said.
When students procrastinate, they tend to keep themselves busy doing other things to escape their reality, but researchers say that individuals should consider the negative psychological consequences — including guilt, depression, anxiety, and stress — associated with deferring the inevitable.
“I try to schedule my weeks and determine what days I will work on my assignments and what days I will relax and have time for myself,” said Boissiere.
Despite Boissiere trying to prevent procrastination by planning ahead of time, burnout can still happen. In those instances, she takes time for herself to rejuvenate her energy in order to tackle her schoolwork later.
Liu advises students not to struggle alone and to reach out for help when needed. “We might struggle for different reasons, and for those reasons, support is available.”
Seeking support is important for maintaining positive mental health, and can lead to increased energy, heightened focus, and improved self-esteem. These are qualities that can assist students both personally and academically. There are many support services available at Ryerson University. For a list of the available resources, visit: https://www.ryerson.ca/contact/student/.