Student bored with book over the face (procrastinating)

Procrastination is a learned behavior. Here's how students can "unlearn" it.

Top 5 Ways To Boost Productivity For Every Student In Your Classroom

“You’re not a procrastinator. You have a habit of procrastinating.” Mel Robbins, a famous motivational speaker, began her Ted Talk with these words. She spoke about the ways anyone can tackle the problem of procrastination.

And she’s right. The habit of procrastination is everywhere-we’ve all done it. You probably see procrastination in your personal and professional life, but it happens in education. Procrastination is one of the reasons we see students cramming for tests and quizzes instead of acquiring small bits of information over a more extended time.

Students procrastinate projects, tests, and homework for a variety of reasons, such as:
feelings of overwhelm
short-term gratification
faithfulness in their future-self

Procrastination is a coping mechanism for overwhelm and stress. We tend to avoid the things we think will be challenging, and our students are no different.

This avoidance will continue if it’s not addressed. Then, it will enter your students’ subconscious, where procrastination will continue. It will become a learned behavior in a very unconscious way.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Here are five efficient ways to help stop procrastination and overcome it once and for all.

Create A Clear, Step-By-Step Plan

Students know the end goal for many assignments, tests, and projects. First, their teachers explain the requirements and answer any questions students might have. Then, students are expected to act. However, the challenge lies in how to get to the desired result.

Without a clear-cut path, students begin to feel anxious. They know what’s expected of them, but they don’t understand how to get there. Many students cannot organize their primary tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. They tend to see large tasks as a wall to jump over when it’s a staircase to climb.

Help banish this by creating a plan with your students. Use our digital tools and planning templates to help them see a concrete, organized roadmap to accomplish their goals. This will enable students to see a step-by-step plan of execution, allowing them to get started. When large tasks are broken down into smaller parts, students are more capable of completing the assignment because they know they’ll be successful.

Prioritize Each Task

Once you have a plan in place with your students, create an opportunity for them to identify the sequence of their task completion. This will give you a glimpse into how students plan and execute their assignments. Plus, students often have difficulty figuring out which tasks need to be completed in which order. As a result, they’ll likely pick something they really want to do first, ignoring the less-desirable tasks.

Get feedback on how students approach their homework completion. For example, some students prefer to do their harder subject first, saving their easiest subject for last. At the same time, other students like to begin their homework by doing their preferred subject first to get started.

This student-centered discussion will help them see how everyone has a different approach to work completion, and they can try out the one that works for them.

Once you’ve discussed how students approach their homework, place them into heterogeneous groups. Have them develop the scope and sequence of their plan to present to the class. Then allow students to choose the plan that best meets their needs.

Build In Rewards

As little kids, students learned that if they did something undesirable first, they’d get something they wanted in return, like eating their vegetables before getting dessert. While it’s pretty effective, it teaches our minds that we get a reward for doing hard things.

The mind is used to this reward system, so projects and assignments need rewards built into them quickly. An excellent digital tool for this is our planning templates. Students appreciate creating a plan that incorporates something more desirable within their reach. It helps them work towards something in a focused way. As a result, this strengthens their time management skills.

Build Awareness

Honest conversations with students about procrastination begin with self-awareness. Students won’t know they’re procrastinating until they openly talk about it.

Start a class discussion about procrastination and ask your students to share when they’ve procrastinated. Then, ask them to try to identify the feelings they had when they decided to procrastinate.

Create a template on our site entitled: Procrastination. Then, brainstorm all the ways students participate in it.

Next, create ways to combat procrastination with your students. Finally, keep this list visible in your classroom and hallways to continue building mindfulness.

Use Digital Tools

Often, students lack the willpower to start. Show them how much they can accomplish in a series of 25-minute intervals. Use our Sequence timer to log the time to complete smaller tasks. Reflect after several uses and discuss students’ reactions to setting a timer. Here’s a few discussion questions to help create an open dialogue:
How much of the task were you able to complete in 25 minutes?
What happened once you got started?
Why do we tend to put more energy into avoiding starting a task instead of simply getting started?
How can we build lifelong skills to combat procrastination?
How do we feel after we finish a task?What’s your favorite way to reward yourself after completing a task?


There are many underlying reasons why students procrastinate: fear of failure, a lack of executive functioning skills, or even mental health issues. It’s important as educators to develop helpful strategies to counteract procrastination. Whenever you assign a test or a project, incorporate time management strategies to ensure every student meets their personal learning goals. 

More often than not, procrastination is a response to feelings of overwhelm. The more students do it, the more problematic it becomes. But, by helping our students become consciously aware of their behaviors, they’ll develop their motivation, willpower, and discipline.

When we use student-centered activities to tackle challenges like procrastination, we create a positive learning community where all students feel supported and successful.