Some people find that they put things off more than they would like. This is a common problem, so it is probably best to be well-prepared to identify it and deal with it if it does start to happen. There are various reasons:

  • poor time management
  • scared by the scale of the task
  • negative beliefs 
  • loss of motivation
  • perfectionism
  • difficulty concentrating
  • need to feel under pressure
  • personal problems

Spotting the signs early will give you the best chance of minimising any negative effects. Once you suspect that you are putting things off, it can be helpful to review what you are expecting of yourself, and check that those expectations are realistic. This is where planning is vital.

Realistic planning

To improve the prospect of completing on time, and avoiding procrastination, you need to:

  • be realistic about when you can or will start
  • devote time to planning and revising your plan
  • try to work out if any of your research will take a set amount of time to complete
  • allocate appropriate time for any travelling you need to do for your research
  • include other (non-dissertation related) things that you have to do between now and then
  • have clear and achievable objectives for each week
  • focus on one thing at a time
  • leave time for editing and correcting
  • reward yourself when you complete objectives that you have timetabled
  • if you fall behind make sure you spend time reworking your plan

Your research plan should also include information about what equipment you will need to complete your project, and any travel costs or other expenses that you are likely to incur. You should also think about whether you are dependent on any one else to complete your project, and what you are going to do if they are unable to help you.

Once you have created your plan it is a good idea to show it to someone else. Ideally you will be able to show it to a member of academic staff or bring it to the Learning Development Centre, but talking it over with a friend may also help you to spot anything that you have forgotten or anywhere that you have been unrealistic in your planning.