A student's guide to procrastination

Dave Griffith-Jones | January 9th 2018

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Why work on your paper just after it was set, when you can do an all-nighter the day before the deadline? Why start studying for an exam today, when you could write a to-do list instead? Why study at all now when you could just cram the day before the exam? 

Why go to the lab or the library when you’ve got endless series on Netflix to binge on? Why listen in class when you could read this blog?

The result

Living this way hurts. We kid ourselves that we work best under pressure, but the studies show otherwise. We sacrifice sleep, and our health with it.  The stress makes us grumpy with those around us. We go whole weeks without seeing our friends or calling home when a deadline looms. We skip church for a month during exam season when we have spent half our waking hours that year on social media.

We know all this.  So why do we still do it?

Procrastination is a flimsy refuge that doesn’t truly protect you

The wrong refuge

We procrastinate because we’re hiding from something.  Maybe from hard work, or from responsibility, or from the risk of failure.

When we procrastinate from difficult things like this, we’re making things other than Jesus our refuge—our safe space, our hiding place. We put things off to protect ourselves from things or people we find threatening and instead, we find refuge in the things that take their place. You might find refuge in affirmation (hours spent scrolling on Instagram) or relaxation (binge watching a series on Netflix). These things make terrible refuges; they comfort us momentarily but leave us unsatisfied and unprepared. The work still has to be done, but in a rush. Procrastination is a flimsy refuge that doesn’t truly protect you.

The strong refuge

So if you want to stop putting things off and start taking things on, you need to find a better refuge—the Lord Jesus, who has conquered sin and death and reigns from heaven.

King David wrote Psalm 11 when he was facing something much scarier than an essay deadline—wicked people were conspiring against his life. But this is what he wrote:


In the LORD I take refuge.

How then can you say to me:

‘Flee like a bird to your mountain?’

(Psalm 11 v 1)


Without a strong refuge, David would have to hide from his enemies.  But with the Lord as his refuge, he doesn’t need to run away.  He’s not caught in open ground. He can stand strong in the face of difficulty and danger. 

You too can make the Lord your refuge when you’re tempted to procrastinate. Instead of waiting until the night before the deadline, you can pray to Jesus for strength to start work straight away. Instead of delaying studying until the week before the exam, you can remind yourself that with God as your refuge anything is possible and start work today. Instead of binge-watching the latest sitcom, you can say Psalm 11 in your head and go to your 9am class.

Making Jesus your refuge will be good for your health and for your relationships, good for your friends and for your faith—and probably good for your grades too. 

For more on how making Jesus your refuge helps you to stop putting things off and start taking things on, get hold of Dave’s book, Escaping Escapism.

Dave Griffith-Jones

Dave is Team Rector in Drypool, east Hull, UK. Before that, he pastored in Toxteth, Liverpool. He is married to Helen and they have four children. Dave is a regular contributor to the Explore daily Bible-reading series.

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