Christmas is over. The new year has begun. And it’s already time for the most annoying and stressful phase of the semester again – the examination phase.
Every semester I think to myself: This time I will be better prepared! And yet, every year it’s the same sad game all over again! I usually start off very motivated and ready, but somehow after a week or two my motivation is gone, and I postpone everything I must do until I am so under pressure that I am regularly very close to having a nervous breakdown. Procrastination at its best!
Procrastination – a Mental Disorder?
The term procrastination is generally understood as behaviour characterised by either not completing tasks despite existing opportunities and abilities or completing them only after a very long time and often too late. Many people are probably familiar with this definition.
What is less well known is that procrastination is also a pathological disorder and, therefore, a mental illness.
Procrastination as a disorder can occur as parts of a diagnosable mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety disorder or ADHD and also single-handedly affect a person’s psychological well-being. Problems with setting priorities, lack of or unrealistic planning, deficits in time management or in the ability to concentrate and fear of failure or criticism can be factors that promote procrastination.
However, not every delay of important tasks or every procrastination-promoting behaviour ends in a mental disorder.
Tips to Detect and Battle Procrastination
On the website of the WWU Münster, for example, you can take a self-test to reflect on your behaviour (https://www.uni-muenster.de/Prokrastinationsambulanz/Angebote_Test.html).
But there are also some everyday tips to help you combat procrastination while staying focused and motivated.
Firstly, it can be helpful to create a kind of to-do list with precise time details, goals you want to achieve and sufficient breaks. Most of the time I put off tasks and prefer to spend my time cleaning my room or cooking because I don’t know exactly where to start or how to manage my time. A schedule and a to-do list could solve this problem. As Kidlin’s Law says: If you can write the problem down clearly, you’re halfway there.
The second piece of advice that goes hand in hand with the first one is to read up on different time management strategies. For example, after a maximum of 90 minutes of intensive working or studying, you should take a break of 15 minutes to get some fresh air and drink something. You should do something that has nothing to do with work so that your brain can recover. Afterwards, you can continue working with renewed energy and concentration.
Of course, many other tips and tricks can help fight procrastination, such as using a time tracking app, rewarding yourself for good work, or romanticising your studies. Therefore, it makes sense to look for further tips on the internet that fit your personality for your personality and learning type.
It is crucial to understand that procrastination often has nothing to do with the personal weakness of will or laziness, as our society often assumes!
Therefore, it is important not to label a person too quickly, but to think outside the box and make sure that the person is doing well or to provide help if necessary.
Author: Tabea Oppelt