Procrastination on its own is not a diagnosable mental health condition, but if left unmanaged it can cause anxiety and depression. When I think about the students I’ve worked with who have anxiety around their school work, it is typically because they are leaving their work until the last second. This means they either hand in assignments that are not done as well as they could be or they are handed in late.
Notwithstanding conditions like ADHD that can make it hard for a person to stay focused, I think one of the root causes of procrastination is very basic – students are never really taught how to study and do school work.
In the early grades we are all taught how to write letters and numbers and then simple sentences. As we progress, we are expected to complete paragraphs and then multi-page assignments. Some work is done in groups. Some is based on information on the Internet. Regardless of the work involved I have yet to hear about a school that actually spends time specifically teaching students how to study.
Students are not given more than an overview of how to take notes. They are given assignments but not taught how to approach an assignment. They are given due dates but not given strategies on how to use their calendar to make sure they can hand their work in on time. The end result is procrastination closely followed by anxiety.
I have found that one of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to help my clients learn how to study. Effective calendaring skills and some basic project management techniques can go a long way towards helping a student of any age become more successful.