Procrastination – everybody does it, everybody struggles with it.
Throughout high school, I have had my fair share of time management ups and downs. There were days when I would finish all my schoolwork at 7:30 p.m., and others when I would not even complete my assignments until 1:00 in the morning.
If you’re like me and have a super hectic schedule, procrastination can be tempting, but detrimental. The more you procrastinate, the more you’ll need to catch up, which is the exact opposite of productivity.
Here are a few tips and tricks I have implemented into my daily life that help me curb procrastination and stay proactive:
- Set deadlines for yourself that are before the actual deadline.
To combat procrastination, I typically set a personal deadline prior to the legitimate one. For example, for a lap report that is due next Monday, I would be sure to make my personal deadline this upcoming Friday to ensure that I finish the report before the weekend starts. This way, I have one less assignment to stress about leading up to the actual due date.
- Start early on all projects or assignments.
If your teacher gives you two weeks to complete a biology packet, start on the day that you’re given the assignment! This makes it much easier to budget your time every day without working on the bulk of the packet the night before it’s due.
- Do the math and stick to it.
If you have a particularly large and daunting task, you can divvy it up into smaller pieces so that it’s more manageable to complete.
As the old adage goes, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
Let’s say you have to read 140 pages in one week for your English class. If you break that up into simpler terms, you’d have to read only 20 pages per day (20 pages per day x 7 days = 140 pages).
Now that you’ve asserted that you need to read 20 pages per day, you’re going to have to commit to that daily schedule. Set reminders for yourself to read those 20 pages by adding it to your phone calendar, or you can read 10 pages in the morning and another 10 in the evening. Budget your time the way you see fit!
- Reward yourself for completing your assignments.
What’s the best way to convince yourself to do a huge project that will determine 90% of your grade? Is it food? Money? A stellar grade? Maybe going to that party everybody’s going to once you’ve finished the project?
Whatever the incentive is, you need to reward yourself for your accomplishments, be it monumental or menial.
This encourages you to continue working toward a goal and gives you that satisfactory feeling knowing that you were productive.
I always tell myself that once I complete one assignment, I will reward myself with 15 minutes on social media. Your incentive, however, may be completely different from mine. Perhaps you want to reward yourself with ice cream or a shopping spree – the possibilities are endless!
- Work with friends.
Let’s face it: sometimes we’re going to need help from our peers, which is precisely why this tip is so crucial.
By collaborating on schoolwork with your classmates, you are holding one another accountable for your actions, making it costlier to procrastinate.
I highly recommend setting up group study dates or sessions at your local library or coffee shop on the weekends and working on your assignments together. You can go through every single math problem or read each paragraph from your book together and ask questions along the way. Group study sessions also allow for great intellectual conversations as you all can brainstorm different ideas together and gain knowledge from one another.
The most important aspect of group study dates is to be consistent. By showing up once a week for 2 hours every Sunday, you’re setting yourself up for success rather than a group that only studies twice a semester together. So discuss your availability with each other and find out which date, time, and location is best for all of you!
- Work on your easiest assignments first, and then move on to your more challenging ones.
Have you ever taken a multiple choice exam and got stuck on one problem for so long that you no longer had enough time to answer the remaining questions?
The same concept can also apply to homework. If you spend too much energy on one incredibly difficult math problem, then you’ll be wasting precious time that you could have been using to complete the rest of the problems.
This is why I suggest budgeting your time wisely by working on the less difficult assignments first, and then moving on to the more challenging ones afterward. This way, you can get the simple tasks out of the way and focus the rest of your energy on the tougher projects.
- Listen to music while you do your homework.
This piece of advice may not work well for reading or writing assignments (unless you want to jam out to instrumentals/classical music), but for other subjects, music can definitely help you concentrate better! I use music to get myself in the perfect mental state to do homework.
Personally, I avoid listening to music with lyrics for tasks that require a lot of reading and writing as my mind tends to wander off and ends up following along to the beat and the lyrics. However, I love blasting SZA and Maroon 5 while I’m working on my math homework.
Of course, some people are more or less distracted by music than others, so feel free to explore what works well with you and what doesn’t! Who knows – maybe music will be an integral part of your study routine.