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Dean's Fellow Digest #4

March 23, 2020

Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #4 - How to Overcome Extreme Procrastination

Issue: 2020-04

Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement. 


  • How to Overcome Extreme Procrastination

How to Overcome Extreme Procrastination
By: Talin Yahiayan*

Image - Procrastination

It’s true—procrastination has benefits! Taking some downtime with a project allows for creativity and non-linear thinking. However, there is also a dark side … Extreme procrastination has a high potential for painful consequences and interferes with the academic and personal success of a student. This is what we will be discussing today.

Different Types of Extreme Procrastinators

Thrill-seekers: Those who wait until the last minute to start and complete a task for the euphoric rush.

Avoiders: Those who may be avoiding fear of failure, or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them.

Decisional procrastinators: Those who cannot make a decision.

1. Fear & Anxiety

You may be overwhelmed with the task and afraid of failing. As a result, you spend a great deal of time worrying about your upcoming exams and/or projects, rather than completing the necessary tasks.

You may believe you must read everything ever written on a subject before you can move on. Stop thinking this way. This train of thought affords you no favors. More importantly, strive to do the best you can today and every day.

2. Commit to Just Starting—Even If Only For a Few Minutes

When we start something, our brains remain alert until we finish it. Starting can be the trickiest part!

3. Do the Tough & Important Tasks First

Completing the hard tasks while your brain is still fresh means you are less likely to give up or procrastinate.

Break a large task into small parts.

Set specific goals.

Procrastination 4. Be Aware & Non-Blaming

When you do recognize that you are procrastinating, or you have the urge to procrastinate, do so in a non-judgmental and non-blaming way.

In other words, don’t beat yourself up, but instead, make a choice to do things differently.

5. Practice Discomfort

If you recognize discomfort arising within you as you are about to start a task, you can practice tolerating it mindfully, and then letting the discomfort go.

6. Let Go of Excuses & Encourage

Look for the excuses you are making to justify your procrastination.

Notice your unhelpful conclusions, such as not needing to start the task now because of some circumstance and determine if this conclusion is really true. Then, strive to settle on a conclusion that is more helpful to you—something more along the lines of starting the task now!

7.  Manage Your Surroundings

Put your phone away.

Control your surroundings; don’t let your surroundings control you.

Get rid of any distractions from your workspace.

8.  Set More Immediate Deadlines for Yourself

Impending deadlines get you going, so set incremental, more immediate deadlines for portions of a task.

9. Quick Tips

  • Create a to-do list
  • Finish the hardest task first
  • If the task takes less than five minutes, do it now
  • Set a period of time to do nothing but work
  • Give yourself a break
  • Remove your distractions
  • Don’t be a perfectionist
  • Don’t be afraid to say no
  • Motivate yourself by getting rewards
  • Find a buddy!

*About the Author:


Image -Talin YahiayanTalin is a 3L traditional day student. She enjoys helping her peers and seeing others succeed in their future. ​

In addition to being a Dean’s Fellow, Talin is also part of the Student Bar Association on campus and Southwestern’s Journal of International Law. ​

In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family. ​



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