We’ve all been there.
It’s 10:00 p.m., and while you know your paper is due at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, it’s a whole lot more interesting to dawdle around your dorm room and do just about everything but sit down and start writing. Even the most mundane tasks suddenly take on a golden allure: organizing your desk drawers, cleaning out the fridge, sorting your hair binders into color-coordinated piles.
Whatever it is you find yourself doing, the fact of the matter is that you are doing that thing you swore you’d try to stop doing: procrastinating. When there are so many projects to complete, papers to write, tests to study for, along with a host of other things like managing a social life, keeping your dorm room clean, and attending class, it can be easy to avoid stress by doing everything other than what you’re supposed to do.
So how can you quit procrastinating? How can you focus, buckle down, and get done what you need to get done? We’ve put together a list of some handy tricks so the next time you feel like evading your work to play video games, you’ll have a tried and true game plan in place.
1. Consider the consequences
While this is more of a philosophical stance to take when you’re faced with the decision to either work or procrastinate, it’s certainly helpful. Just remind yourself to picture the consequences: if you avoid completing your paper ahead of time, you’ll either have to pull an all-nighter (which is bad for your health and will probably feel stressful), or you’ll be forced to receive a bad grade and potentially fail an important class.
This could lead to even bigger consequences such as not graduating on time, having to pay more money to take the class again, and the potential that your future career could be affected by a lower GPA. There are almost always penalties to be paid when you procrastinate, so reminding yourself of the consequences that will come with waiting too long might be the motivation you need to get going.
2. Give yourself some wiggle room
Life is meant to be enjoyed, and if you’re constantly working, that can make you feel overwhelmed, cause stress, and push you to procrastinate even more. Build in some time to rest during a busy school week at college, and make sure you give yourself breaks or small rewards in between study times.
No, this doesn’t mean you need to reward yourself with a whole slice of cake every time you read a chapter, but giving yourself something to look forward to as you study or write can be a really helpful incentive. Even something small and practical can be nice: When I finish writing this paragraph, I’m going to take a sip of my drink. Or something like this: Once I write a whole page, I’m going to go take a quick shower. Save the bigger rewards for when you’re actually finished with the paper or project.
3. Get rid of distractions
It’s not going to be easy to focus on what you need to get done if you’re surrounding by all sorts of distractions. Put your cell phone out of sight, have your roommate change your Snapchat password for you, or go find a quiet nook in the library to hide away from all the friends you might be tempted to chat with in the common center.
While it’s easy to allow yourself just one little peek online, it’s way too easy to soon find yourself scrolling through feeds, reading articles, and chatting with friends instead of getting your work done. Think about what distracts you ahead of time and make a plan for how you’re going to avoid those distractions instead of getting sucked into the black hole of the Internet.
4. Keep perfectionism at bay
Sometimes people end up procrastinating because they want something to be perfect. It’s always better to simply get started on what you need to work on instead of waiting for the perfect environment or the perfect idea to pop into your brain. Keep in mind that you can always come back later and make adjustments to your work once you’ve finished the main portion of it. While it’s good to strive for excellence, don’t avoid or ignore your work simply because you can’t hit the expectation you have for yourself in your mind.