Everyone has done it before, but most people want to find a way to stop doing it. It is very important to learn how to stop procrastinating in college so that you can be productive with your time and energy.
The definition of procrastination is to delay or postpone something.
When it comes to school, it’s very easy to delay and postpone studying and completing assignments. But with all the different tasks you have to get done and aspects of life to manage, procrastination really only causes harm.
College is designed to offer students more freedom than the strict schedules of primary and secondary school. But with this type of freedom comes great responsibility. As such, it’s on you to manage your time. There are proven ways to stop procrastinating, and eventually, these habits will just become your way of life.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
People procrastinate for different reasons, but some of the reasons for putting off a task may include:
- Not wanting to do the task
- Not caring about the task
- Not remembering something has to be done
- Not knowing how to do it
- Wanting to think more before starting
- Waiting for the “right moment” to begin (truth is, there is never a “right moment”)
- Training yourself to believe that the pressure of last minute makes you better
However, using these as reasons to dismiss or postpone work can contribute to negative side effects, which span:
- Increased stress and anxiety
- More mistakes
- Less developed ideas and a less developed final product
- Missing deadlines
- Letting people down
Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash
How to Stop Procrastinating in College
1. Eliminate Distractions
In an increasingly digitally reliant world, phones and electronic devices can be a major distraction. When you’re in college, it’s likely that you will have to do work on the computer. This is especially true if you attend an online university like the University of the People.
As such, it’s important to limit your distractions while learning. There are a few ways to do this. The most obvious one is to turn off your phone or leave it in a different room. If you are using your computer for school, try to download materials if possible, and then turn off your internet. If that’s not an option, you can use an application, plugin or website that can temporarily limit the usage of websites (like social media or YouTube).
Whether it is electronic devices or something else that causes distractions while working, you can help to eliminate this by setting aside a different area for work and play.
For example, if you have the ability to work in a different room, you can designate that room just for studying. If not, you can clear the space you do have and remove distractions by only keeping necessary resources in your line of sight.
2. Set a Schedule
Perhaps the most important step for time management is having a schedule. By setting a schedule in advance of your week, you can make the most of your time. As such, you can break your days into different time blocks — some for fun, some for work, some for exercise, some for family and friends, etc.
In order to stick to your current schedule, you can use alarms or alerts for when you are meant to switch tasks. Don’t try to multi-task because it ends up being inefficient. When you multitask, you aren’t actually focused on either task. Instead, you can try the Pomodoro Technique, for example. This technique suggests working on a very specific task for 25 minutes straight, then taking a 5-minute break. After the break, you can focus in 25-minute increments until you finish the task.
3. Know Yourself
Different people are better focused at different times of the day. While some students prefer to study in the morning, others are better at night. There’s no right or wrong answer, but the best thing you can do is find out what your productive time of day is and stick with it. Once you are aware of this, you can design your schedule accordingly to work when you are most alert.
Additionally, when you have big projects to complete or a lot of reading to do, it’s a good idea to simplify them into smaller tasks or break up the assignment into smaller pieces.
4. Eat Healthily and Exercise
Although it may seem unrelated, eating healthily and exercising is very important for your ability to stay focused. By taking care of your mental and physical health, you will be better prepared to stay on task. Not only does exercising increase endorphins, but the sheer act of playing sports or performing physical exercise also helps to train focus.
Furthermore, when you eat healthy foods, you will avoid sugar crashes and provide your body with the necessary nutrients to feed your brain.
5. Ask for Help
A lot of people have a hard time asking for the assistance of others. But as a college student, you always have support. Whether you need help balancing your life or just talking to someone, you can lean on the support of family and friends. Or, if you want professional help, you can seek out a therapist. Many colleges offer this kind of support.
At the University of the People, each student is provided with a personal academic adviser to whom they can turn with any questions that arise. From the beginning of the enrollment process to graduation, students can rely on their advisers to help them out.
Other forms of help can include finding a mentor or speaking to administration regarding whatever may be stressing you out.
6. Reward Yourself
Staying on track takes diligence and hard work, so you deserve to reward yourself, too!
When you give yourself motivational reasons to get tasks done, you can create a positive feedback loop in your brain. By breaking up goals into smaller, achievable tasks on the to-do list, you will feel happy when you cross them off.
One idea is to set up a rewards jar. An example would be placing some money in a jar each time you accomplish something on your list. At the end of a week or month, you can reward yourself with a gift using the funds from your achievements.
Why is it important to stop procrastinating? It’s been proven that procrastination increases stress and anxiety levels.
When you can properly manage your time, you can benefit your mental health and balance your life.
In order to be successful in college, you will have to work hard. There’s already an inherent amount of stress involved in school, so if you’re able to limit it by tweaking aspects in your control, you will set yourself up for success.
Take your pick from this list to start integrating strategies into your life that will help you master how to stop procrastinating and start studying.