Student Struggles: Battling with Procrastination

An 'I love London' alarm clock with an LSE landyard.

The word “procrastination” was derived from Latin's "procrastinare", that translates into: the prefix pro-, 'forward', and the suffix -crastinus, meaning 'till next day'.

So, procrastination etymologically means putting off something until tomorrow, a tomorrow that is usually less defined. Every student one time or another has been a victim of procrastination, that urge to eschew studying and postpone writing those essays for another day.

An American study in 2004 claims that no less than 70% of college students are chronic procrastinators. At such times, I prefer to do the laundry, some cleaning or cooking, or any other thing apart from putting a pen on paper! This is called trivialisation: pretending that procrastinatory behaviour is not actually procrastinating, but rather a task which is more important than the avoided one.

Since procrastination has been denounced a student’s worst enemy, it is therefore important to know some of its causes and how to manage them:


Distractions have been identified as one of the major causes of procrastination among students. The internet which remains one of man’s greatest inventions has also become one of man’s biggest distractions. Social media pervades our daily lives and often robs us of that precious study time. Videos games, TV and even bantering with friends can lead to us postponing school work.

Draw up a study schedule and develop the will to stick to it. You can switch off your Wifi, television and other potential sources of distraction for some time with the strong resolve to get some academic work done. It's high time we left Facebook for a few hours and faced our books. Sorry Zuckerberg!

Perfectionism and Fear of Failure

The fear of failure and not doing well in an assignment can paralyse some students and can put them off their work. Having no clue how to start writing an essay is often a good excuse to put it off until some kind of inspiration comes or until “the time is right”.

Instead of just waiting for the Muses to inspire us, we can break down our assignments into smaller steps; for a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take the first step - consult your professor and classmates about your difficulties. They can help you onto the right track. There is no such thing as a perfect essay, but beginning in time gives you the opportunity to revaluate your work and make it stronger. The last-minute rush won't help much.


Lack of motivation is among the greatest causes of procrastination. At times, the reason we choose to do something else or do nothing at all instead of studying is because we lack interest in it. It is therefore important to revive this interest.

It’s a good idea to listen to motivational talks and stories of great people throughout history, especially our personal heroes and mentors. It is also useful to recount those moments to overcome obstacles and challenges. Reflecting on our academic journey so far can fill us with a sense of achievement and the hunger to do more.

Remember the big things you plan to achieve with this degree and the sacrifices you have made so far. Emphasise your strengths and surround yourself with those who encourage you to work hard. Join study groups and discuss academic subjects with friends. Be your greatest fan and cheer yourself to victory. And remember that the best time to begin that assignment is now.


Photo and words by LSE Social Media Ambassador Victor Agboga.