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How To Stop Procrastinating College Homework

Do you routinely wait to complete assignments until the hours right before they’re due? Have all-nighters become a regular part of your weekly schedule? Has coffee become your go-to fuel to power midnight study sessions?

If so, you may be suffering from a bad case of procrastination — and you’re not alone. Many college students fall prey to this bad habit, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s the best way to navigate your academics! In fact, the habits associated with procrastination — rushing through assignments, getting little to no sleep, consuming vast amounts of coffee —can harm not only your grades, but also your health.

The truth is, you will work better if you give yourself adequate time to turn in high-quality work. And doing so makes it more likely you will earn good grades and stay healthy. Here are five handy methods to beat procrastination this semester:

1. Break down large assignments

It can be overwhelming to confront a large assignment thinking you need to finish the whole thing in one sitting. Conversely, chipping away at it a little at a time is much more manageable.

Take some time to assess each large assignment you receive, jotting down a list of everything you need to do in order to complete it. Next, pull out your calendar and give yourself deadlines for completing each task. You should complete all tasks a few days before the entire assignment is due so that you can check your work and make sure it’s cohesive.

2. Limit distractions

You’re less likely to procrastinate when you’re focused. If you find you’re spending too much time on social media, temporarily disable your account(s) while you’re working on a particularly challenging project. Put your phone away when you’re working on an assignment or studying, and choose an appropriate (and quiet) study spot.

3. Designate study/schoolwork time

Much like you should create a timeline for each large assignment you receive, you should set up a regular study/schoolwork schedule. Evaluate your course load and set aside a reasonable amount of time each week to complete work for each class, and block out this time in your calendar. Designating such time holds you accountable to sit down and get your work done.

4. Find a study buddy

Finding a study buddy is another great way to hold yourself accountable to getting your work done on time. You and your buddy will have a set schedule for meeting, and that will require you to stay on top of your work—or else you’ll hold up your buddy. Studying with a friend can also be a great motivator to study in the first place, especially if you tend to get bored when studying solo.

5. Reward yourself

All work and no play can make it hard for you to feel motivated enough to continue working diligently throughout the semester. Remember to periodically reward yourself for your academic efforts with fun and healthy things, like mind-clearing walks between study sessions and hangout time with friends. You’re less likely to procrastinate if you’re feeling happy, healthy, and motivated!

Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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Stop procrastinating may sound a bit like, “Stop sleeping with your eyes closed.” A lot of students don’t know any other way to study. It’s not like they want to procrastinate. It’s just that… that’s what you do!

Well, believe it or not, you don’t have to keep procrastinating. You can stop procrastinating, become a better time manager, and get your stress loads under control. How? Well, try these four anti-procrastinating tips to begin your journey toward the procrastination-free student lifestyle.

(And PS – if you haven’t read our last blog on procrastination, you should check it out. Hopefully it will convince you that procrastinating is not a good thing.)

Stop Procrastinating Tip #1: Plan time to study

If you hate planning as much as I do, don’t get caught up in the “planning” side of things. What we’re not talking about is working out a whole bunch of details and spending a ton of time getting things situated.

This doesn’t need to be detail intensive. All we’re saying is that if you want to stop procrastinating, you need to set a time when you’re going to do work.

We often see students for whom this is a significant issue. They want to get their work done. They  really do. But they never find the time for it.

A friend of mine uses the phrase, “Give your time a home.” That’s a good way of thinking about it. If your study time has a home in your schedule, you’re much more likely to use that time to do work instead of procrastinating.

Not using a planner?

That’s OK. It’s really easy to find a good student calendar/agenda. For starters, check out the digital ones offered by MyStudyLife. Another great option would be SchoolTraq, a digitized planner developed by some high school students who really use it.

And as always, there is the good ol’ Google Calendar. It’s what I use personally most of the time. It’s less student-specific, but it gets the job done.

All you want to do is mark out some time to study. If you’re a real high-achiever wanting to destroy the procrastinating streak within you, you can even set reminders. This will keep the procrastinating to a minimum and productivity to a maximum.

Stop Procrastinating Tip #2: Plan tasks to do in your study time

There’s that word again – “Plan.” Yeah, this does take a little more planning effort than just marking off time blocks on your calendar. But if you’re serious about stopping the procrastinating, it’s a necessity.

Students find procrastinating super easy when they don’t know exactly how much work they need to do today. If all I have is several huge binders full of worksheets, papers, and notes, it’s hard to know exactly what I need to do today. Students end of procrastinating because they don’t know what the next step is.

That’s right. Procrastinating isn’t always laziness. Sure, some students procrastinate because they’re lazy. But you’re not those students. You’re reading a blog on how to stop procrastinating.

Often when students end up procrastinating, it’s because they’ve not developed a good to-do list out of their massive work load.

We get it. Planning work isn’t fun. Making to-do lists seems more wasteful than procrastinating. But the reality is that a few minutes planning your tasks will go a long way toward stopping your procrastinating.

Stop Procrastinating Tip #3: Find mini-motivators

Wanting to save the whales, end human trafficking, or change the world is some other way are great goals. We recommend you dream big. You can accomplish a lot if you set out to do it.

But that’s not often going to help end your procrastination streak.

We need mini-motivation on a daily basis to keep moving forward, not just the big, hairy, audacious kind of motivation. Big life dreams move us forward in big life decisions. We need much smaller dreams for the day-in, day-out grind of math worksheets and English assignments.

Let’s get specific.

What motivates you in the short term doesn’t need to be big. We’re just talking about breaking our procrastinating habits. I find that chocolate ice cream usually does the trick for me. Not a fan of chocolate ice cream? Maybe some chocolate chip cookies will do the trick for you.

If you want to stop procrastinating, set small goals for yourself and reward yourself in small ways.

Don’t hear us saying it’s OK to down three pints of Rocky Road if you finish your homework. Don’t get crazy. But small rewards like a nice snack or maybe an episode of your favorite TV show can be helpful tools for staying motivated now to stop procrastinating.

Anti-Procrastinating Tip #4: Get accountability

This is your education we’re talking about. It’s pretty important.

In fact, we’d say it’s so important that it’s worth getting accountability to stop procrastinating. If you’re trying to stop procrastinating, but you never let someone else know about it, you’re missing out on a major motivator: friends.

The people in our lives provide some of the most helpful ways to stop procrastinating. Here’s how it works.

  • You tell Jimmy (made up name) you’re going to stop procrastinating and want accountability.
  • Jimmy commits to asking you if you’ve stopped procrastinating every week.
  • You don’t lie to Jimmy when he asks.
  • If you’re really serious, you give Jimmy the option to punch you in the arm if you have procrastinated.
  • Then you stop procrastinating.

Or something like. Is this extreme? Eh, maybe. But it will help you get the job done. If you’re serious about avoiding the painful realities of procrastination, sometimes a little extreme might help.

In the meantime, what are you going to do to stop procrastinating? (If you put it in the comments below, we promise not to punch you in the arm)

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