If you are a student or a coach working with students, you would certainly recognize that being a student-athlete is hard work! They often have to fit in almost twice as much into their day compared to a typical student.
They need to train regularly, revise their school work, get enough sleep, eat healthily, and still leave room for family and social activities.
This is A LOT and is a big part of the reason why many suffer from exhaustion and quit the sport.
So what can student-athletes do to be at the top of their game, both academically and in sports?
If you reckon time management is the solution, you are only partly correct; all your efforts at time management would be put to waste if you do not first learn how to overcome procrastination. Specifically, you may know what to (and what not to) do but can’t seem to follow through with your thoughts and actions.
What is Procrastination?
According to Balkis (2013), procrastination is the behavior of unnecessary delay in starting or completing tasks at hand which prevents individuals from achieving their goals, followed by unhealthy emotions such as anxiety, guilt, and shame.
The procrastinator usually explains his actions by saying ‘This is such a boring task’ or ‘I will complete this task later.’
Many studies have associated procrastination to lower levels of performance and personal wellbeing, with procrastinators showing higher levels of anxiety and depression resulting in negative health symptoms in the long run (Balkis, 2013; Wäschle et al., 2014).
So how does one overcome procrastination?
Here are 3 simple tips to help you along…
1. Recognize the onset of Procrastination, and Refocus
One minute you are getting started on your assignment and five minutes later, you find yourself shopping online! We are often led astray by procrastination without even being conscious about it!
It will be useful to reflect and recognize WHEN you procrastinate and WHAT forms of procrastination you are prone to (e.g., idle chat, social media, having another cup of coffee). With increased awareness, you will be less likely to give in to the urge to delay your task and refocus on your task. Tell yourself to just spend a short amount of time working on it! You would often end up feeling compelled to complete the task once you have started it.
2. Break it down!
Thinking about the completion of a difficult task or assignment can be intimidating and stressful. It often results in even more anxiety and procrastination. The key is to tackle the big task by breaking them down into smaller chunks that you can manage and complete right now.
“The ability to let go of the outcome and refocus on the process helps you to focus on what you are doing, at the time you are doing it…”Coach Hansen
This practice helps you to focus (rather than think) and you are more likely to achieve complete your task in the minimum amount of time.
3. Manage your Environment
Obviously, you would be more likely to maintain attention with less distractions around you. A study by Thornton et al. (2015) found that the mere presence of a cell phone leads to a 20% worse performance on any task than if your phone had been kept away.
Reflect on the environment that you typically perform your tasks. Is it conducive? If not, what can you do to remove potential distractions? Perhaps you should switch to working in a different environment?
By now, you would have figured out that procrastination is not confined to student-athletes. It is a human condition and it and has implications on both our achievement and wellbeing.
So the next time you resist a task, observe your procrastination triggers, convince yourself to get started on a byte sized task that you can complete right now, and keep your phone away!
Balkis, M. (2013). Academic procrastination, academic life satisfaction and academic achievement: The mediation role of rational beliefs about studying. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 13(1), 57–74.
Thornton, B., Faires, A., Robbins, M., & Rollins, E. (2014). The mere presence of a cell phone may be distracting: Implications for attention and task performance. Social Psychology, 45(6), 479–488.
Wäschle, K., Allgaier, A., Lachner, A., Fink, S., & Nückles, M. (2014). Procrastination and self-efficacy: Tracing vicious and virtuous circles in self-regulated learning. Learning and Instruction, 29, 103-114.