All students have been there. You have tons of homework to go through, but you’re nowhere near starting to work on it. Instead, you’re streaming one episode of a TV show after another – or cleaning up your room, of all things.
In other words, you’re procrastinating. But you’re hardly the first one to grapple with this problem. And that’s good news: it means you’re not alone, and you can use a vast array of techniques to become more productive, like the seven below.
But in case none of these methods below help you come out on top in your studies, don’t worry.
Understand Why You Procrastinate
Ask yourself, what triggers procrastination in your case? Why can’t you get started with this or that task? You may realize that the assignment seems too tremendous, or you’re afraid you won’t be able to do an A-level job. Acknowledging it will help you catch those thoughts and counter them.
Avoid blaming yourself when you seek answers to these questions, though. Everyone procrastinates from time to time, and it’s not because they’re lazy or unintelligent. Most likely, the task just seems too daunting or boring.
2. Eat the Frog
No, not literally. “Eat the Frog” is a common productivity hack that helps avoid procrastination. It means getting started with the task that makes you the most anxious. Once it’s out of your way, you’ll be relieved – and readier than ever to tackle all the other items on your to-do list.
“But what if I have multiple frogs to eat in one go? Do I have to deal with all of them myself? ” Of course, you don’t have to do it alone! If you realize you can’t deal with all the assignments yourself, there’s no shame in turning to professionals to take some weight off your shoulders.
3. Remove Distractions
How does your procrastination show? Do you spend your time scrolling the social media feed on your phone? Or watching Netflix on your laptop?
To beat procrastination, you can cut yourself off from your usual distractions. Here’s what it can mean in practice:
- If your phone and/or smartwatch distract you with all those notifications, turn on the Focus mode, put your phone away, and take off your smartwatch;
- If you can’t help wandering off to the parts of the internet unrelated to studying, install impulse blockers like Cold Turkey to cut off your access to certain websites and apps;
- If you get distracted by your surroundings, go to a dedicated study space (e.g., a library) and/or put on noise-canceling headphones.
4. Know When You’re the Most Productive
While your college probably expects you to be productive in the mornings, the reality is not everyone is a morning person. You have your own productivity hours, and they may be in the afternoon or in the evening.
So, reflect on your productivity hours – and log them for a couple of weeks if you don’t have a clear answer right away. Then, try to tackle the most challenging tasks in that time window. Ideally, your study sessions should always correspond to your productivity hours.
5. Define a Reward for Yourself
When it comes to a stick or carrot approach, the carrot seems to work better in motivating students like you to get it over with. So, find the right carrots for yourself – and don’t cheat!
For example, you can tell yourself you’ll study for two hours, and after you’re done, you’ll watch an episode of your favorite TV show or eat your favorite snack. Just make sure that the rewards are proportionate to the task – and that you want to achieve them, too.
6. Schedule Your Study Time
Time management is one of the top skills for college students for a reason. It can help you use your scarce time as efficiently as possible – and help you start studying even when you don’t really feel like it.
Scheduling study time takes away any excuse for you to spend “five more minutes” doing something else. If your schedule says you should start studying at 4 pm, you’ll have to do it. This method requires a healthy amount of self-discipline, of course – but self-discipline is better than motivation!
7. Just Get Started
“But it’s easier said than done!” Yes, it sure is. But getting started is the hardest part of it all. So, there’s no better way to beat procrastination than by forcing yourself to get started instead of waiting for a perfect moment or mood to do so.
Begin with something small. Promise yourself to work on a task for at least five minutes – for example, check the assignment requirements or start doing your research on the topic. You probably won’t even notice the five minutes pass!
In Conclusion: 3 More Tips on How to Stop Procrastinating
Chances are, you’ve already tried all these methods – and you continue to procrastinate more often than you’d like to. That’s fine! Humans are different, so what works for some may not do the job for you.
In this case, consider trying these three other techniques to beat procrastination:
- When you catch yourself procrastinating, remind yourself why you need to do this or that to achieve your long-term goals.
- Break down the seemingly huge tasks into smaller chunks and spread them over multiple days. For example, instead of reading 100 pages in one sitting, read five or ten pages a day.
- Practice productive procrastination. When you avoid a certain task, use that time to cross another one off your to-do list.
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