Aren’t You Supposed to be Studying? Here’s 10 Tips to Help You Fight Procrastination

By Centennial College Modified on April 03, 2024
Tags : Campus Life

Are you a procrastinator? Follow these tips to get on track with your schoolwork.

 Aren’t You Supposed to be Studying? Here’s 10 Tips to Help You Fight Procrastination

Whether it’s cleaning out your room, completing a research project, or studying for an exam, we’ve all been guilty of procrastination at some point or another, especially in college. Let’s take a look at what you can be doing the next time you’re trying to not be doing something.

1. Admit that procrastination is a serious problem

The first step is being aware of what you’re doing. But there’s a little bit more to it than just saying that you’re procrastinating. It’s taking it seriously, and admitting that it’s something you need to stop doing, because the problem isn’t going to go away, and the stress of a deadline can be bad for your mental and physical health.

You need to hold yourself accountable for getting your work done, or else it’s going to be a bigger problem later, and I don’t just mean when you have to rush through it. I mean later in life, when it’s something more critical than a school assignment that you’re putting off.

2. Find a place to study

The easiest thing is to change up where you work and study. You don’t want to, say, curl up with a blanket in bed. No, you want a dedicated study space with good lighting, and a clear desktop to work on. If possible, this location (or locations) should be for work only, because, going back to the mental part of this, you’ll train your brain to be there to work when you enter the space.

While your study space could be at home, the best place is the library, especially at Centennial College, where the libraries across our campuses come with dedicated quiet study zones. It’s a place you can get away from it all, where it’s just you and your task.

3. Get rid of distractions

You go to a location like a library to get away from distractions, but your biggest distractions, like your computer, or your phone, still come with you, so you need to make sure everything is silenced, your apps are closed, and that your screen’s only full of what you need. I’ve found that it’s a big help to put some music in your ears while you work, so you can keep the distractible part of your brain occupied.

4. Give yourself reminders

If you’re going to have your phone sending out alerts, use them for a good purpose: Reminding yourself about what you still need to get done. Regular reminders to start working can be a powerful tool. Similarly, using something like Google Calendar to set reminders for upcoming tasks and assignments can give you something visual to keep you on task.

Or go old school: I’ve found a paper wall calendar in my kitchen with everything jotted down on it keeps me reminded. Alternately, use your phone to schedule how long working, or studying, is going to last. Set it for 30 minutes, and see how much you can get done before that timer goes off, and it’s time for a break.

5. Don’t do this alone

If I really want to make sure I’m going to do something, I tell other people I’m going to do it. You don’t have to hold yourself accountable on your own. Instead, you can ask a friend or family member to check up on how you’re going. And, more importantly, your classmates, who are all in the same boat as you, and probably have their own procrastination problems. If you form a study group (and book a room in one of our libraries on a regular basis), then you’ll be obligated to pull your weight, since you’ve got people relying on you.

6. Set achievable goals for yourself

One reason you might be procrastinating is because the task ahead of you just seems too big. In that case, break it down into smaller tasks. You don’t need to do the whole thing — start with just the outline, or the research, or a paragraph, or one problem. The key is to turn the task into something that isn’t so big, something you can manage. Doing so will make you feel a bit more in control, a bit less overwhelmed, since you don’t have to think about the big picture.

7. Do the hardest part first

While I was researching this article, I discovered an incredible bit of terminology: “Eating a live frog.” That saying comes from famous author Mark Twain, who advised us to do that first thing in the morning. Luckily, it was a metaphor. The “live frog” is really the biggest, most unpleasant, toughest task of the day, and the thing that can lead you to procrastinate the most. But, if you do it right away, and get it done, it’ll make things easier, since it’ll only get easier from that point on.

8. It doesn’t have to be perfect

If you’re a perfectionist, your struggle with procrastination can come down to being intimidated by the fact that you don’t think you’re going to do a good enough job. To that, I say: Some of the best advice I ever got as a writer was just to write down whatever came to your head, even if it seemed ridiculous, or shoddy, or low-quality. The important thing was to get it down, and you’d be surprised at how often it was actually what you needed to say. And when you’re procrastinating, the hardest step can be getting the ball rolling, especially when you’re worried about it not being your best work. So, don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good,” and just do something, anything, to get rolling on what you need to do.

9. Give yourself rewards and breaks

Truly overcoming procrastination doesn’t just happen overnight. You need to develop good habits, and that means you need to stick with whatever works for you. And when you do succeed, don’t be afraid to reward yourself, even if it’s just to give yourself something to work towards. Whether it’s getting a treat, watching a YouTube video, or going for a walk, a reward can make it all better. What separates these rewards from procrastination is intent. If you’re intentional about taking a break, it’s not the same as not working when you should be.

10. You want it to become a habit

The end goal of all of this is to set up a consistent, clear routine when you have to get schoolwork done, something you can do every day. If you can make it into a habit, you’ll have won, because getting your work done will just be automatic. But Procrastination can sneak back up on you, so keep all of these tips in mind for the next time you feel your will to study slipping away!

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