Categories: Academics

Tips To Help You Stop Procrastinating

If you think you’ve found this fount of knowledge from someone who always gets their sh*t done in a timely manner, I’m going to be straightforward with you: procrastinating is something I struggle with too. 

If I have the chance to put off to tomorrow something less fun I should have been doing today, I’ll do it. 

I’m the worst, what can I say. 

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are too. That’s okay, let’s go through it together. 

Organize and Prioritize

Get out a diary or calendar of some kind. It doesn’t matter if it’s paper or digital though some studies do show that writing things out manually (by hand) will help you remember things better. Heck, why not both? I often write things out and then type them up just to cement them in my brain. 

Lay out everything you need to do in the upcoming months. Every deadline you can find. The bigger it is the more you highlight it and double/triple check the date. 

Put those dates in your phone. The sooner the better. 

Set alarms so you’re reminded of each event before they happen. This may seem excessive, but my kid brother just missed a midterm last semester because he mixed the days up. It’s hard to come back from something like that. You want to do the most you can to prevent it, however annoying it seems.

Just…trust me. Annoy yourself into getting stuff done. It’s better than the alternative. 

Early Birds and Quick Starters

Start things sooner than you think you should. 

You’ve got that assignment due next month that you’re relieved you have all this time for? 

That’s great. Start it now. 

“But I don’t want to think about it yet-“

No. You do. You may not know it yet but you really do.

There’s a reason why professors and bosses (usually) tell us about things a month in advance. It’s not that it will take the full thirty days-of course not. But start at least thinking about it now.

Write out an outline. Start thinking of a game plan. Go to office hours and get advice now, and not later. They’ll think better of you if you do because it shows you mean business. It also means you’ll miss the long line of everyone else who waited till the last minute and began to freak out.

Suckers.

But watch: the more you trick yourself into thinking you have your act together the more your friends and those around you will believe it too. And you just might start to believe it, too.

Coffee and Accountabili-buddies

When I have something to get done and I really don’t want to, usually I drag myself out of bed and away from the comforts and distractions of my home and plop myself down at a table at Starbucks.

Sometimes you know that what you need right now is just you, you’ve got your work blinders on and you don’t want any external factors.

Other times, having a friend can help… especially if they’ve got stuff they gotta get done too.

Know yourself and them. Talk a little but know that you’ll help each other out if you’re able to put on headphones and focus for the majority of the time. Sometimes just knowing that they’re on the other side of the table getting sh*t done is enough to keep you from procrastinating and to get you to get your work done.

The pressure is on, but you know that’s the only way to turn coal into diamonds, so. Maybe you need it to create something amazing. (Or at least pass this class).

See Also

Baby Steps and Productive Breaks

Some days are harder than others. I don’t want to minimize the difficulty of getting focused when you’re going through a rough one, especially if you have any form of ADD or executive dysfunction. 

Even if you have a feeling that today is going to be a wash, there are still things you can do to feel like you’ve at least started to navigate yourself towards being on track.

Maybe you just can’t focus on that essay you need to do right now, but maybe you can do the dishes. Maybe you can’t finish that major assignment at the moment but maybe going on a grocery run is the sort of break your mind needs. Maybe you can send some e-mails you’ve been meaning to do instead. 

The way to keep these little productive breaks from becoming their own form of procrastinating is to make sure you’re only doing things you Need Right Now. Does the laundry need doing? Yeah? Productive break. Does your whole wardrobe need to be Marie Kondo’d when you have a big project coming up? 

Probably not. 

Delayed Gratification = Ultimate Satisfaction

Even as I write this my dumb little lizard brain is whispering in my ear that I could be laying the Sims 4 right now.

“You’d only play a little bit,” the goblin lies. “And you wouldn’t even feel guilty about it later.” 

Trust me when I say that it is always easier to play the Sims.

That is to say, it is always easier to take the fun way out.

A little fun here and there isn’t so bad, but its a slippery slope between giving yourself some much-needed Me Time on Tumblr here and there and finding yourself at the point of exhaustion trying to cram and slap-together assignments the night before they’re due. 

Sure, you can argue all-nighters are a part of college and being in your twenties but your teary delirious 5 am self probably won’t agree. 

Whatever thing you’re itching for right now-that game or that movie or even that party is going to feel so much better when its guilt-free.

Training yourself to be proactive instead of procrastinating isn’t easy, but it is possible. What are some tips you have to keep from procrastinating? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Lauren West

Lauren West graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and Digitial Journalism in December 2018. She is a Southern California native, an INFP with anxiety, and at any moment trying her best.

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