Non-White man with face covered in sticky notes with sayings and drawings

A Deep Dive Into Procrastination and How to Stop It

Procrastination is a fickle thing. Before learning how to stop once and for all, here's a look at why you procrastinate and how it affects your schoolwork.

Every once in a while, finishing your homework or studying for a test just feels like too much. You may not have even started your work before procrastination makes you put it off later and later. Here’s a look at how this habit can affect your life and what you can do to stop it. With a few simple tricks, you’ll get back on track and win the ever-present battle against procrastination.

Why do I procrastinate?

People avoid work and deadlines for numerous reasons; it typically depends on your personality. Stop to consider if you’re an easily distracted person or approaching your studies with a sense of dread. Psychologists have found that several factors cause the perfect storm for procrastination, like an impulsive nature or a tendency to lean into self-defeat. You may not have much confidence in your abilities, or maybe you view temptations in a positive light. Reflect on your surroundings, current mood, and mindset when you feel procrastination sneaking up on you again to narrow down your specific causes. 

Related: How to Fight Procrastination and Find Your Motivation

How does procrastination affect grades?

There are a few ways procrastination affects your grades. Avoiding your work often leads to missed deadlines. If your teacher doesn’t give you an extension, you’ll get a zero on an assignment and it’ll tank your overall grade for the class. Students also tend to get worse test results because they don’t study for exams as much as they should. Procrastinating and not studying negatively affects the grades you’ll get on upcoming exams, and likely, the final results from your end-of-year testing won’t be what you want them to be.

How does procrastination affect academic performance?

Academic performance covers everything from how well you do on tests to how you work with classmates on projects. Procrastination makes it more challenging to contribute to teamwork in the classroom and prepare yourself for standardized testing. Without the ability to focus and push through your to-do list, you might jeopardize which colleges you get into and graduate with fewer accolades than you’d like—and you could end up bringing other students down in the process. 

Related: How to Work on Your Academic Weaknesses in High School

How to stop procrastinating

Every student should know why they procrastinate and how it affects their academic lives, but it’s also crucial to learn how to stop doing it. Use these simple tips to conquer whatever you need to do.

Break down big tasks

Your latest research paper assignment looms over you. It’s the last thing you want to focus on because it requires so much work. Overcome this type of procrastination by breaking a project down into smaller tasks that are less intimidating. It’s easier to finish something big when it starts with quick steps like finding one resource or setting up a document outline.

Schedule future breaks

It’s also tempting to avoid studying when you’re facing a grueling, multi-hour block of sitting in one place and focusing on test material. Give yourself a bit of encouragement by scheduling breaks. Step away for five or 10 minutes after at least 30 minutes of studying to give your mind a chance to rest. You’ll get back to work with more energy and hardly worry about tempting distractions.

Related: 4 Interesting Podcasts to Listen to On Your Study Breaks

“Eat your frog”

No, you don’t have to eat an actual frog. Eat the frog is a saying used by experts who study productivity. Your “frog” is whatever task makes you dread getting to work the most. It’s likely the most important thing on your to-do list, so it might change for each class or week. Tackling your frog first promotes a deep work habit because you’ll feel less anxiety. Get it out of the way and you’ll finish the rest of your work with ease because nothing else seems like a big deal in comparison.

Reward your accomplishments

If nothing motivates you to keep working, you won’t want to work. Incentivize yourself by setting a reward for each of your accomplishments as you get through your tasks. It could be something as simple as watching an episode of a show you’ve been binging after a good study session, or maybe leaving your house for a bit to get some ice cream. You’ll become more confident and happier, which always makes your homework easier to handle.

Related: Top 10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination

Procrastination doesn’t have to mean bad grades and poor academic performance forever. Take control of your distracting thoughts and get back on track with your schoolwork. You can find the root of your procrastination and use these helpful tips so it becomes a thing of the past. 

For more help getting through all your schoolwork, check out the advice in our Majors and Academics section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

college academics high school academics homework procrastination study tips time management

About Ginger Abbot

Ginger Abbot is an education, learning and student life writer, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Read more of her work for college students on her Classrooms author page.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway



High School Class of 2019

My college search began at CollegeXpress. Due to this helpful tool, I was able to gather a lot of information to guide my college planning decisions. Through CollegeXpress, I was also able to apply to several scholarships to help pay for my tuition. I would definitely recommend this website to anyone who wants to explore colleges and get more information from admission experts, counselors, and real students.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

Hannah Nelsen

Hannah Nelsen

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me look at colleges that fit my interests by taking my profile and matching it to colleges that have the programs I'm looking for. It has the ability to connect me to colleges so I can be contacted by them and look at them more in-depth to find what's right for me. Additionally, the scholarship database is super beneficial for getting scholarships for college. Not only does it help lift the financial burden of college but it shows all the opportunities available. Overall, CollegeXpress has been very helpful to me.

Joan Franklin

Joan Franklin


I love this website and have been using it for years with my students. I originally bought products through Wintergreen Orchard House and appreciated having key facts at my fingertips when advising students. Your site is easy to access and offers a wide array of topics I need as a busy college counselor.

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

College Matches