How to Stop Procrastinating in College (12 Tips)

How to Stop Procrastinating in CollegeYou hate cleaning, but now that you need to study for that big Chemistry test, you’re suddenly set on making your dorm room sparkle. Procrastination can take some interesting forms. It can also have very serious effects on college students. Students who procrastinate regularly were found to get lower grades, produce lower-quality work, and experience reduced well-being. If you frequently find yourself watching Netflix, online shopping, napping, or cleaning to avoid your homework, practicing a new time-management strategy could help. Keep reading to learn some of the best ways to avoid procrastination in college.


1. Admit that you’re procrastinating

The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognize and acknowledge that you are avoiding important tasks. Perhaps you are even reading this article as a way to procrastinate homework. (If that’s the case, do your homework first, and then finish reading the rest of this article.) Some people procrastinate because they have a fear of failure. Others may be unrealistic and overestimate how much they can get done before the deadline. After you recognize which procrastination problem you’re experiencing, then you will have the right mindset to be more productive. Until you acknowledge that you aren’t being as productive as you could be, your time management skills won’t improve.


2. Pick a good study location

Although it may be tempting, your comfy bed is not the best place to do your school work. Ideally, your go-to study spot will have good lighting and plenty of room to spread out your study materials and laptop. This could be the library, a park, or the common area in your dorm building. You’ll want to have one or two designated study locations that you can visit consistently. If possible, these locations should be a place where you don’t do any other activities, like napping or watching tv. Soon enough, your brain will understand that these particular locations are for completing important tasks only.


3. Keep a calendar of due dates and deadlines

At the beginning of the semester, your professors will likely hand out a syllabus with important assignment dates. You should transfer the due dates from the syllabus of each class to a central location, like a calendar. Whether you keep a physical copy or use one on your phone, knowing your deadlines will help you plan ahead. Using your phone calendar will allow you to set reminders for homework assignments for one to two weeks in advance. These reminders can help you schedule large tasks into multiple steps. Writing an essay could look like separate chunks of researching, writing, and revising your paper in your planner. Similarly, planning out when you will review your notes could help with studying for a midterm or final. 


4. Determine when you're most productive

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I’ll do that assignment later tonight”? Instead, when the time comes, you’re watching your favorite show or going to a campus event. While you still need to be accountable for putting off your responsibilities, you might need to consider when you’re most attentive and alert during the day. Identifying the times of day when you’re most productive could help you procrastinate less. Some students work best right when they roll out of bed. Others can focus better on tasks after the sun has gone down. However, it doesn’t really matter if you’re an early bird or a night owl. Try to schedule your most intensive tasks for the times when you have the most energy. You’ll be less likely to delay your work at your peak times.


How to Stop Procrastinating in College (# Tips)

5. Eliminate distractions

When studying, you may get distracted by friends visiting your dorm or social media notifications appearing on your phone. This can happen to anyone, which is why it’s important to hold yourself accountable. After you find a location that works for you, start eliminating all the objects that are keeping you from your work. Eliminating potential interruptions, such as your phone, will allow you to complete your tasks and avoid wasted time. At times, there may be distractions or noises that are outside of your control. Consider listening to classical music or playing white noise to help minimize them.


6. Make a to-do list

You might be busier during different parts of the semester. At times, it may seem like your teachers simultaneously decided to assign the most challenging projects. Looking at all your assignments at once can make you feel anxious or overwhelmed, leading to procrastination. To address this predicament, make a to-do list of all the tasks you need to complete. You can prioritize the list by closest due date, importance, or how long it will take you to complete. Writing down what you need to do first can help you have a more productive day. You’ll also feel good each time you cross off a task. Pro tip: If you complete a task that wasn’t on your list, write it down anyway. You can cross it off to get an extra boost of serotonin.


7. Set goals you can reach

You may find yourself stalling because the task at hand seems too large to tackle at once. Alternatively, you may be unsure of which task to start with. Dividing your homework into small tasks can make a large assignment seem less daunting. For example, start by constructing only an outline for a term paper or studying for a test in chunks. You can also use the pomodoro method, which involves setting a timer for a specific period to help you stay focused. For example, you would clear all distractions and study only for 25 minutes. After you accomplish the timed task, get some brain food or a study snack as a reward. Then, repeat the process. Setting small goals will make you feel more productive and allow you to break the cycle of chronic procrastination.


8. Work with a study group

If you lack the willpower to regularly study alone, a study group can be a great way to prevent procrastination. You’ll have to pull your own weight by preparing your notes and questions ahead of time. Because you’re contributing effort regularly, you’ll likely have a sense of responsibility towards the group. The study group's peer pressure will keep you accountable towards your school work. In addition, the group will likely set a specific time to meet each week. You’ll be less likely to skip a study session when you have a consistent schedule. In the end, you may even discover some tricks to help you learn and retain the course material.


9. Develop self-compassion

Sometimes, procrastination is a cycle. You might procrastinate, get upset with yourself for avoiding school work, and then waste time being hard on yourself. In situations like these, you should practice self-compassion to help you focus on what you need to get done. Reminding yourself that everyone makes mistakes and forgiving yourself for times you’ve postponed work in the past could help. Remember that the purpose of self-compassion is not to enable yourself to avoid responsibility and keep putting off your tasks. Instead, try forgiving yourself for delaying, which will help you focus on getting started. Then, hold yourself accountable and work towards not making the same mistakes in the future.


10. Learn to say "no"

In college, there will be many opportunities to have fun with friends. However, you don’t have to say yes to every invitation that comes your way. Tagging along with a friend to run errands or watch your college volleyball team is important time spent together. However, it’s easy to take on too much and limit the time you have left to spend on your education. As a student, you’ll need to find a balance between earning your degree and having a life. The people important to you will understand that you can’t accept every social invitation that is thrown your way. You can always schedule activities with family and friends in your calendar. This way, your social life can support your study habits rather than distract you from them. 


11. Reward yourself for staying focused

Overcoming procrastination doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a series of regular good behaviors, like finishing your homework on time for a month, to form a habit. It also requires some discipline and self control. Finishing an important task before the due date is a big deal. You shouldn’t be afraid to reward yourself for successfully completing the job. To refresh and prepare for your next task, get ice cream, go for a run, or take a nap. With the use of rewards, you can increase your motivation and train your brain to develop those healthy study habits. However, it is important to note that you shouldn’t use rewarding yourself as an excuse to delay your next task.


12. Take regular breaks

Although it may seem backwards, taking a break is one of the best ways to boost your productivity. Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t procrastinating the same as taking a break?” The answer is not so simple. The reason you’re able to take a break is due to intention. An intentional break means that you stick to a designated amount of time away from work. This is different from putting off the task until the last possible minute. Yet, the hardest part about taking a break is having the willpower to get started again after the break is over.



Ultimately, it’s okay to put things off from time to time. However, it’s important to understand that long-term procrastination could potentially have a negative effect on your health or good grades. You might have been able to delay homework or chores without consequences in high school. Even so, your college years are the time to overcome this negative habit. Your work and other responsibilities don’t go away over time, so put down the sponge and put away your phone. Go forth and use this advice to avoid procrastination now (not later).




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