Procrastination: the Thief of Time

Posted by | Jan 18, 2017

The paper that was assigned four weeks ago is due tomorrow. Having ignored the deadline for as long as possible and underestimated the amount of time needed to complete the project, your child is suddenly in a panic, searching for last-minute sources, scrambling to develop a thesis, trying to create an outline, and relying on adrenaline to beat the clock. As the parent, you’re sucked into the chaos against your will, dropping everything you were doing to focus on getting your student across the finish line.

It happens with such frequency, you wonder why your child never learns from the experience. The reality is, students with executive functioning impairment—a challenge that goes hand in hand with ADHD—have intractable problems with self-regulation, and academic procrastination is the unfortunate result. What looks like laziness, indifference, avoidance, or disorganization, is really a symptom of their struggle to manage what they can’t control.

Current research on ADHD and procrastination suggest that this trait is related to boredom and the difficulty students have in feeling stimulated. Students with intrinsic reasons for pursuing academic tasks procrastinate less than those with less autonomous reasons. Procrastination is a motivational problem that involves more than poor time management skills or lack of effort.

Today’s classroom doesn’t offer many alternatives for nontraditional learners—the students who excel at subjects outside of math, science, and English, such as music, art, computer science, or drama. To help your student succeed, you need to ensure that they are supported in the classes they find less engaging.

Through academic coaching, students who procrastinate can become more self-aware and develop self-regulation strategies that help them work through difficult assignments. Regular coaching can help students identify the factors that drive their procrastination, understand which elements of tasks are the most difficult for them to initiate and complete, and establish a mindset and practical steps that can help them move beyond the moment.

Everyone wants to avoid unpleasant situations. By eliminating the anxiety and negative feelings that students may experience and replacing them with responsive strategies, motivational thinking, and realistic goals, coaches can help students (and their parents) become more productive at school and at home.