Procrastination is inevitable.
Everyone procrastinates to some degree. And while reading inspirational quotes or watching Alec Baldwin scream in your face can motivate you in the short term, the only long-term solution to procrastination is to build better habits.
In this article, I’m going to explain twelve easy ways to stop procrastination and start studying. Figure out which methods work for you and then use them in your daily life.
1. Use a planner
Motivate yourself by adopting an effective planner system. I used a planner throughout high school, and it always kept me on track. Why? I always felt I had to complete my work right then; I couldn’t just put it off until the next day because I still had that lingering, unchecked box in my planner. This article explains in more detail how to effectively use a planner.
2. Set a regular study time
Your schedule is complicated. I get it. But still, you should at least try to create the habit of doing your work at a specific time each day/week. Figure out what times work well for you, and try to get your work done before you get sidetracked with other distractions.
This method has many benefits: you get your work done, you are more likely to notice yourself slipping into bad habits, and if you miss your allotted time you’ll feel more pressed to catch up.
3. Control social media/video streaming usage
You know how much time you spend on social media, video streaming, or really any other time-consuming technology-based activity. It’s probably more than you’re willing to admit. The effects of technology on students is over-discussed, so I’ll keep my advice brief: make sure you can control your use of this technology. If you notice you cannot, delete the app. Avoid it for a week.
4. Set goals
Set goals and hold yourself accountable to them. Short-term goals are best since you’re more likely to deliver. An example of a short-term goal would be to get 8 hours of sleep every night for a week. A long-term goal would be to get an A in World History this semester. An effective way to keep yourself accountable is to tell someone about your goal; you’ll feel an extra pressure to follow up on your task.
When you’re creating your goals, remember the acronym SMART. Your goal should be
- Specific: Clearly state the goal.
- Measurable: Make the goal is quantifiable.
- Attainable: Make sure you can actually achieve the goal.
- Realistic: Know your limits.
- Time-bound: Create an end-date, don’t procrastinate your goals.
Example: For the next six weeks, I want to exercise for 30 minutes four times per week. I know I can exercise that frequently, so, with some effort, this goal is entirely attainable.
5. Procrastinate early
Yes, it’s an oxymoron, but it actually makes sense. By adjusting the perceived due date for an assignment, you can fool yourself into getting work done. This article explains procrastinating early in more detail.
6. Create checkpoints for larger projects
When you’re assigned a big project, split it up into multiple parts and assign each part its own due date. This will help you stay on track. Deliver on each individual due date as if it was the due date for the final project.
You can also apply this method to certain smaller projects; e.g. rewarding yourself for each completed Iliad chapter with 3 gummy bears.
7. Avoid “multitasking”
No matter how well you think you can do two tasks at once, multitasking just isn’t as effective as focusing intently a single task. I wish that multitasking would work, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Also, using technology as a break from doing homework can be counterproductive. Here’s an article describing how to take effective study breaks.
8. Create the right studying atmosphere
Find your favorite place to work. Library, coffee shop, grassy knoll? Wherever you feel most driven to do work and are least likely to be distracted, take advantage of it.
9. Just do it
No hesitation. No delay. If you have work to do, just do it.
10. Race the clock
Set a timer while you work. Challenge yourself to see how much you can get done in 30 minutes or even just ten minutes. By giving yourself some fictional pressure, you’ll help motivate your actions.
Another way to use a timer to help motivate you is the Pomodoro Method.
11. Use “No Turning Back” deadlines
Promise yourself you won’t do something until after you’ve completed a certain amount of work.
Try this: leave your phone in one room, go to another room, and promise you won’t leave that room until after you’ve finished all of your chemistry problem sets. Or go to a coffee shop with the determined goal to finish your essay. Don’t come home until after the paper is done. When there’s no room for procrastination, you’ll find it easier to be productive.
12. Don’t get too stressed out
As Jeremy puts it in his motivation article, “Motivation is a tricky thing. When it’s not there, it’s easy to fall behind, and when you’re behind on work, it’s even harder to motivate yourself.” But just by being aware of this vicious cycle, you’ll be more prepared to avoid it.
No single night of homework is worth a week of burnout, so know your limits.
To overcome procrastination, you’ll have to be very aware of yourself and your subconscious tendencies. You’ll also have to be honest with yourself.
Try out these methods and assess which ones work for you. If one stops working, switch it out for a new one. Only you will be able to defeat your procrastination. Good luck.
Did I miss any anti-procrastination tips? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.
Image credit: Mountains