Procrastination—a notorious college concept that while might seem inevitable, unfortunately describes a lot of college students. With so much to do, it never seems like enough time in the day to get it all done. Between involvement in extracurriculars and maintaining a social life with friends, schoolwork may resort to falling by the wayside. In the end, it results in a lot of students rushing at the last minute to complete a huge assignment/study for a test. Or, for some students, even worse, forgetting about the assignment/test completely. This might result in a potential failing grade on that assignment or test. Take it from these students and learn from their experience. Don’t let it happen to you!
Check out these 10 Ways to Stop (or at least limit) Procrastination:
1. Leave Your Phone in Another Room
If you don’t need it, then get rid of it, not permanently, just while completing your work. Our smartphones cause a lot of problems relating to distraction. As members of Generation-Z, we go on our phones constantly. We all know the feeling of taking a 5-minute phone break to either go on social media, play games, or get in contact with friends. One thing leads to another and 5-minutes turns into 50 minutes which then turns into 3 hours. The sound of notifications popping up haunts us the more and more we ignore them, it eventually turns into an irresistible feeling which results in us checking our phones. Placing your phone in another room of the house can limit those distractions and make it easier to focus on the task at hand.
“I find that leaving my phone in another room while I’m studying helps me focus more on my task. I end up procrastinating a lot because of my phone and its social media apps, it can be really addicting and time consuming. But when I leave my phone in a different place than where I’m working, I’m much less distracted and finish my homework on time,” College of Staten Island junior Kaitlyn Cornacchio said.
This solution works best for people who study at home. When someone does their work from home, they can leave their phone in another room without any worries. Just remember in the case of you expecting an important phone call to leave your ringer on. Our generation relies on our cell phones so much. Some start to feel uncomfortable or even lost without their phone. It may seem weird, but it can produce positive outcomes with some time away from the screen. Plus, the faster you get your work done, the quicker you can get back to texting your friends or scrolling through your Instagram feed.
2. Put Your Phone on Do Not Disturb
If you can’t study from home and absolutely need your phone by your side at all times then keep it on Do Not Disturb. This will silence all sounds and notifications. Unlike just silencing your phone, your screen won’t light up when a notification appears. There’s also a lot of customization options regarding Do Not Disturb. You can customize it to a setting that only allows calls from certain people and if someone calls you twice within three minutes then you will hear your phone go off. Making it the perfect way to not only get the benefits of silencing your phone while working but also to allow others to get in-contact with you in case of an emergency.
“Putting your phone on Do Not Disturb is a great way to avoid procrastination because your phone can be a big distraction for when you’re trying to complete your homework. There are many components on your phone that can be distracting such as texting, going on social media, watching videos on YouTube or Tik Tok, etc. Every message or notification you get will make you feel tempted to check your phone every few minutes, causing you to lose focus. This method has helped me personally because I’ve been able to get my work done faster, so I don’t have to stay up late at night doing it,” College of Staten Island junior Alexandra Fuca said.
The usage of our phones causes so many of our procrastination problems. Don’t get me wrong, our phones help us in so many different situations. They transformed the ways of the world, and how we live our everyday lives. But it allows for so many distractions that we may not even realize. Even going on your phone for academic purposes can quickly send us down a wormhole. All it takes is one notification to pop up and boom… you get distracted. But the beauty of Do Not Disturb comes in and saves the day.
3. Turn the Television Off
Unless your assignment for class revolves on analyzing a specific film or show, turn the television off. I am not talking about lowering the volume… I mean completely off. TV doesn’t count as “background noise,” you will get distracted and end up watching the show rather than working. This also applies to YouTube videos, a huge weakness of our generation. Remember how going on your phone can lead to five minutes turning into three hours, same thing goes for YouTube videos. Watching YouTube videos compares to an endless cycle that leads you to a place you didn’t even mean to go to. You can start off with a specific video and end up watching something completely different later on. Do yourself and your grades a favor and watch it at a different time.
“It is important to limit distractions so you can focus on studying. That’s why turning things like the TV off is important. You want an environment where you can fully focus on your task so you can achieve the best results,” St. John’s University sophomore Christopher Catalano said.
Watching TV may seem tempting, especially if a new episode of your favorite shows on. If you find yourself in this situation where you really want to finish by a certain time to watch a show, think in the mindset of if I do my work now then I can watch the show later. The sooner you complete your work, the sooner you can watch your show.
4. Eat Before Doing Your Work (Not During)
Let’s face it, no one can focus on an empty stomach. That means… time to get some brain food. You don’t want to feel light-headed while studying due to a lack of food in your system. Plus, you want to keep up with your assignments in a HEALTHY way for your mind and body. Studying while suffering from a headache feels the absolute worst and just intolerable. So, grab a bite to eat. However, make sure to not eat while studying. This causes messiness and potential spillage, which we don’t want to happen around the notes from class or around technology.
5. Change Up the Location of your Workspace
Time to switch things up. Some find that studying at home may not make for the most productive work environment. Especially if you live in a Full House like the one from the show. If you do, sharing a room with siblings or living with people who constantly barge in on you, will interrupt your work nonstop. Even though you secretly wish to tell everyone to leave, you can’t do that.
Plus, your home contains personal belongings which can lead to potential causes of distraction. Go to your campus library and get your work done there. A space like that provides everything you need in terms of adequate room, comfort and available resources. Also, try stopping by your local park and work there. You’ll get your work done, while enjoying some fresh air in the great outdoors which can clear your mind and make it easier to concentrate.
6. Write Out a List and Create a Game Plan
Time to get down to business and get started. One important part of avoiding procrastination, and getting things done in a timely manner involves knowing exactly what needs to get done and by when. So, create a list of all your tasks. You can structure your list however you see fit. Also, make sure to prioritize certain tasks over others. Certain criteria when determining what to tackle first include:
- The due date of the assignment: Do you see one assignment due in a day and one due in a week?
- The size of the assignment: Does it sound time consuming? Would you need multiple days to complete it or can you bang it out quick all at once?
Take both of these factors into consideration when making your list. Remember, if an assignment does require multiple days of work, try to get some portions done earlier and save the rest for the other days. You can still achieve productivity without needing to feel pressured to finish whatever tasks you start. As long as you designate times for when it will get done. It actually seems beneficial to mix up the work from different classes in one session rather than one task at once. Keeping things fresh can also keep you motivated.
“Making a list is helpful, it’s a game plan that takes stress away and helps you plan ahead. Writing stuff down instead of thinking about them over and over actually helps. Making a to-do list and then crossing out as you go gives you another type of satisfaction,” St. John’s University senior Roger Guevara said.
One easy way to create a game plan instead of writing a straight-up list in your notes involves buying a planner or using your calendar in your phone or laptop. Organization helps with procrastination because you know what and how much work you need to do. Plus, in a planner or calendar the days of the week already come sectioned off for you. No need to type out the date like with notes. Each one comes with their own benefits.
With buying a planner you can decorate it however you like and physically write your tasks down, which helps with memorization. Online calendars come with the advantage of accessibility. If you sync all your devices together, your assignment dates, important meeting times and other alerts come with you to campus. So, you don’t need to carry a physical planner with you wherever you go. Whichever method you choose, just know it beats trying to memorize it all in your head. Eventually you would end up forgetting or missing something.
7. Give Yourself Breaks in Between
Stopping your bad habit of procrastination doesn’t mean you can’t take any breaks. It just means when working and not on break your work actually gets done. Overworking yourself for too long can also cause procrastination because your brain feels tired, and your work ethic/quality of attentiveness will decrease. Set up a timed schedule, so for every hour you work you get a 15-minute break. It doesn’t need to entail this exact time restraint but whatever works for you to keep you energized.
“What I do so I can stay focused and get my work done is take small breaks. These breaks are essential, and I take them when I need some time away from the task. If I’m not sure if I need one, I take one anyway because I most likely need it. It can be something like getting up and stretching or just a small walk,” Guevara said.
These breaks allow you to fully focus on the task at hand when returning to work. You’ll most likely feel less stressed or overwhelmed. These decreased feelings of stress not only help with productivity and getting your work done faster, but also with the quality of your work. Stress often clouds the mind and can prevent you from submitting your best work. What a shame to spend so much time on an assignment but then get a low grade because you felt stressed the entire time. This causes you to feel like you need to rush or simplify certain parts that in reality need more detail/explaining. Breaks serve an important purpose so make sure to take them.
8. Study in a Group
If one of your tasks includes a group project then you will at one point clearly need to set up a date and time to get work done as a group. But for your own individual assignments (or studying for an exam), working around others does come with benefits. You can keep each other focused on and accountable for the work you need to complete.
“Procrastination is something that many students can’t avoid, but when you do work it becomes a breeze. Studying in a group is great for this due to others pushing you to work harder. By working with others, you have positive reinforcement but also have to finish by a set deadline. In a group setting you are also able to finish work at a faster speed, making it a fantastic way to stop procrastination,” Hunter College freshman Sarah Alam said.
Completing your schoolwork in a group allows for a plethora of new study methods. For example, if you study in a group, not only can you trade and compare notes, but you can also quiz each other on information. Studying with friends establishes a great opportunity to help each other out and get work done.
9. Reward Yourself
Eventually as you start to make progress, you deserve a reward. After fully completing an assignment on your to-do list, you create an opportunity to reward yourself with whatever you please. Whether it consists of a longer break, some-time on your phone, a snack break, etc., rewarding yourself keeps you motivated along the way to completing your assignments. Seeing a goal will inspire you to get that work done faster and eliminate distractions. Instead of a 15-minute break, you can reward yourself with a one hour break or some ice-cream.
10. Surround Yourself With Positive Affirmations
Surround yourself with uplifting motivational messages or end goals. These will also keep you driven and inspired. You will start to believe in yourself and your capabilities. One way of doing this can include looking up positive sayings, making plans for the weekend or finding a picture of a vacation you plan on going on during spring break. Once you find a saying or picture that motivates you, hang the picture or post-it with the saying written on it around you. These little things can serve as constant positive reminders and the last push you need to keep you going strong.
For seniors, you can even place a post it with your upcoming graduation date. This will cause you to remember the reason for doing all this hard work in the first place.
At the end of the day, everyone’s work routine differs. What some may find beneficial, others may find distracting. Find what works for you and remember to always plan out your work schedule and manage your time wisely. Your professor gave you a syllabus, so use it. If you get some of your work done early for certain classes, then you won’t feel overloaded with assignments from all your classes all at once. Think smarter, not harder!