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Procrastination and Happiness

Posted on December 2, 2011 by kierandonaghy

This lesson is based on an award-winning short film by John Kelly called Procrastination which explores the universal problem of procrastination. The lesson practises listening and reading, and using the gerund. The lesson also looks at how  avoiding procrastination can make you happier.



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Language level:Intermediate (B1) – Advanced (B2.2)

Learner type: All ages

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Speaking; listening and reading

Topic: Procrastination, happiness and optimism

LanguageShould/shouldn’t; gerund

Materials: Short film and reading texts

Downloadable materials: Procrastination and Happiness Lesson Plan instructions   Procrastination and Happiness Texts A B


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Step 1

Write Procrastination on the board and ask your students if they know what it means. Give this definition:

Procrastination is avoiding doing something.

Show this Facebook procrastination log, and ask them if they think using Facebook is an example of procrastination.

Step 2

Ask students to say what Procrastination is for them using this structure:

Procrastination is checking my email account in the morning.

Put students into small groups and ask them to explain how they procrastinate.

After 5 minutes get feedback from the groups.


Step 3

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film called Procrastination in which a man explains how he procrastinates. Show them this image from the film and tell them that it represents ways in which the man puts things off. Put your students in pairs and ask them to speculate about what the activities may be.


Step 4

Show the film and ask students to check if any of the activities they do to put of doing something which they talked about Step 2. Also ask them to check what activities are presented by the image in Step 3.



Step 5

Ask students the following questions:

What advice would you give to a person to help them procrastinate less?

Put students in pairs and give them 5 minutes to come up with their Top 7 tips for beating procrastination using should and shouldn’t.

After 5 minutes get feedback from your students.


Step 6

Put your students in pairs and tell them them are both going to read half of an  7 Tips for Avoiding Procrastination. Give student A Tips 1-3 and Student B Tips 4-7. Give them 5 minutes to read their text and then get to explain their tips to their partner. Here are the texts in a PDF document. Procrastination and Happiness Texts A B

Go can ask them to compare their tips with those in the article. Discuss the article with your students.


Step 7

Explain to your students that the article comes from a website called The Happiness Project which promotes a book of the same name in which Gretchen Rubin describes the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier. In her book and on her website she shares her insights to help people create their own happiness project. One her insights is that avoiding procrastinations helps people become happier.

Write happiness is on the board, then complete it using the gerund, for example,

Happiness is being with people I love.

Happiness is having a lie-in at the weekend.

Happiness is listening to my favourite songs.

Happiness is helping another person.

Ask your students to write 10 true sentences about what happiness is for them.

Next they should explain what makes them happy to a partner.


Follow up

You might like to show them Things To Be Happy About a site which has 14,000 reasons to be happy



Give students the address of the The Happiness Project video page and ask them to watch some of the videos about how to become happier. In the following class they should report back on the videos they watched.


I hope you enjoy the lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains ad-free and takes many hours a month to research and write, and hundreds of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy or value in it, please consider supporting Film English with a monthly subscription, or by contributing a one-off payment.

Monthly subscription

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19 thoughts on “Procrastination and Happiness

  1. I would like to download the films. Is this possible? We do not have Internet accsess in the classrooms.
    Your site and ideas are excellent!!

    • Hi Viera,
      Thanks for your commnets. It’s great to know that you find the site useful.
      It’s possible to download the videos using programmes such as Clipnabber:
      Just put the donloaded video on a pendrive and you can show them in class without an internet connection.
      All the best,

  2. congratulations! even though the video is a bit scary, the idea of working on happiness is fantastic, I love it

    • Hi Stefania,
      I’m really happy you like the lesson. A lot of research seems to show that avoiding procrastination is a good way to become happier. I like to include positivity building actvities in my classes. If you use the lesson, please let me know how it works.
      All the best,

    • Hi Steve,
      I’m really happy you like the lesson and the logo which was designed by Mark Bain who designed Jamie Keddie’s site, Lessonstreams. He’s a really talented designer, I wanted something with a Saul bass influence and Mark came up with this design which I love.
      All the best,

  3. Used the video today with a group of pre-ints and it worked really well. Got them to write some tweets defining procrastination and got a good discussion points. Very practical in terms of motivating them to begin assignments and be proactive.

    • Hi Luan,
      Thanks a lot for letting me know how the lesson went. The way you’ve adapted it using tweets sounds fantastic. I’m really happy you found the lesson useful.
      All the best,

  4. Pingback: Ideas to procrastinate | Xprocrastinator will just do it

    • Hi,
      You can certainly use the image, it’s screenshot from the short film. I always credit the directors of the films I use and put a link to their site, so I’d just suggest putting a link to the director’s, Johnny Kelly, site.
      All the best,

  5. Pingback: HAPPINESS Esl Resources | Chestnut ESL HOME

  6. Can I purchase the video? Or is there a link to watch it? All I can find is a 4 minute version (or is this it?)! Thanks so much!