Thompson Rivers University

Ten Tips to Beat Procrastination

  Posted on: April 11, 2017

by Natalie Stewart

  1. Perceive procrastination’s pointlessness

 You have to complete your assignment at some point, no matter how much you put it off, so why not start now?

  1. Be your own boss

Many people find it easier to get things done when working under a deadline. If your project does not have a deadline, create one. Ask a friend to keep you accountable, i.e., If I don’t finish this paper by the 15th I’ll buy you lunch! Breaking your work into multiple “sub-deadlines” can also be helpful. For example, commit to having the research done by the 15th, an outline completed by the 18th, and your first rough draft written by the 21st. Think of your deadlines as contracts.

  1. Do the most difficult tasks first

If there is a course that you do not like, or which you find especially challenging, complete that work first. Getting challenging jobs out of the way leaves you free to work on more enjoyable tasks afterwards.

  1. Work smarter, not harder

Find the times and places that you can be the most productive. Do you work best in the morning, or at night? Find or create a dedicated study spot, and build an association with studying there, instead of trying to study in a place your brain associates with sleep or entertainment.

  1. Cut the clutter

Some students find it easier to work with some background noise, and others feel stressed when they are disconnected from social networks for too long. Satisfy your need for noise by using a white noise playlist or working somewhere with crowd sounds. Separate your work into sections, and commit to leaving your phone alone until your next break.

  1. Spend your breaks wisely

Put your break on a timer and commit to getting back to work when the bell goes off. Try to spend your breaks doing an activity that energizes you and refreshes your mind, such as cardio exercise.

  1. Put it into a visual

If homework and deadlines seem overwhelming, write them on a calendar. Keeping track of tasks makes them feel more achievable, and helps relieve the stress of having deadlines and projects floating around in your head. Electronic calendars can give you reminders!

  1. Know your vices

Do you have to answer your phone whenever it beeps? Put it out of sight and in silent mode while you’re working. You can check it on break. Do you end up surfing the Internet when you are supposed to be writing a paper? If you do, turn your computer’s Wi-Fi off. Once you know what distracts you, you can find strategies to defeat it!

  1. Reward yourself

Every time you accomplish a task or reach a goal, reward yourself! For bigger accomplishments, have a night out with friends to celebrate. 

  1. Try the “five-minute technique”

Often, we won’t start a task because it seems too large to tackle. Tell yourself that you are going to work on it for just five minutes. If you want to continue after that, great! If not, stop, take a short (5-10 minute) break, and try again. The theory is that it is easier to continue to work than to start. If the task still seems too large, break it down into steps and take breaks between each step. Once you can work steadily for five minutes, try extending it to seven minutes. Keep extending your time, and watch your concentration improve.

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