How to Stop Procrastinating as a College Student

Let’s face it–we’ve all procrastinated at some point or another. Whether it’s completing a simple task or writing a lengthy essay, most of us procrastinate. It’s a very common bad habit among college students. You have deadlines, homework, and assignments to complete. But it’s so much easier to just say “I’ll do it tomorrow”. 

Procrastination can quickly lead to work piling up, missed deadlines and missed assignments. It’s a great idea to actively work to overcome procrastination and develop time management skills. Here are some actionable tips you can implement to stop procrastinating for good.

  • Create a work timeline

When you have a single deadline for a task or assignment, it is so much easier to keep putting it off, especially when the deadline is far in the future. Instead of having a single deadline for a task, break your work up into smaller, more manageable pieces. Breaking a large task into smaller ones will make it easier to work on it, because it won’t seem that big of a task. 

Set specific deadlines for those smaller tasks. Although it may seem like having more deadlines will make you want to procrastinate even more, having smaller tasks to do will make it easier to complete.

Furthermore, once you complete these deadlines, you’ll feel more accomplished and encouraged to complete more deadlines.

  • Eliminate distractions

Pay attention to what you do while you’re procrastinating. Common distractions from work include television, social media, checking emails, etc. Instead of resorting to these distractions when you don’t want to do your work, make an effort to eliminate these distractions completely. 

Consider locking your phone away in another room temporarily so you can work without being tempted to reach for it. Or, consider switching locations to somewhere less distracting, such as a library. When you eliminate the things that allow you to procrastinate, you will have to focus on work and, hopefully, get into the habit of not engaging with distractions.

  • Hold yourself accountable

In order to break a bad habit, you first need to acknowledge that it’s harmful. If you’re okay with the fact that you procrastinate, you’re never going to stop and your time management will get worse. Don’t let it get to this point! 

This is why it’s important to hold yourself accountable for bad habits and recognize that you can break them. You may consider having friends and family help you hold yourself accountable in the beginning. Tell them about your assignments and their deadlines so you have another person to remind you of deadlines. 

  • Increase your motivation

When you have motivation to work, you won’t feel the urge to procrastinate. Some ways to increase your motivation include:

  1. Imagine your “future self”: When you’re struggling to find motivation to complete your work, think about your goals and how you’re going to accomplish them. Think about how your future self needs your present self to complete the necessary steps to achieve them. This should give you motivation to get to work.
  2. Reward yourself: After completing a deadline successfully, consider rewarding yourself however you want. You can watch an episode of TV or scroll through social media for a bit. Rewarding yourself for your hard work will create a positive work cycle in your mind, and you’ll soon want to complete your work so you can have a reward.
  3. Track your progress: One great way to track your goals is by creating streaks. Determine how much work you want to complete everyday, and keep track of how many days in a row you complete this goal. It will be satisfying to accumulate a high streak and you’ll feel proud of all the work you’ve done. To track your streak, you can download an app or do it manually on a calendar or weekly planner.
  • Establish a consistent schedule 

If you’re only doing work when you feel like it, chances are you won’t be doing as much as you need to. To hold yourself accountable for your work, it’s important to have a consistent schedule to complete everyday. You should make this schedule according to your daily work-flow. For example, if you’re most productive in the morning, that’s when you should be scheduling a majority of your work.

Once you’ve developed a schedule, it’s important to stick to it. When you get used to a routine, you will not be tempted to procrastinate. Remember to plan around any prior commitments you have planned as well.