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Avoiding Procrastination as a Student

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Procrastination Procrastinating Work

Putting off activities that do not appeal to us is human nature. No doubt all of us have found a window to clean a meal to cook, an errand to run or even a lawn to mow when faced with the prospect of less appealing ways to spend an hour. Unfortunately procrastination often kicks in when we’re faced with schoolwork, something that most of us understand that we have to do even if we don’t particularly want to. Remind yourself that procrastinating on an assignment won’t make it go away, it will only make it last longer. Don’t let your schoolwork take over your life, bite the bullet and tackle your assignments head on by avoiding procrastination and finally getting down to work.

Clear Away Distractions

Before beginning an assignment or starting to study, take a few minutes to prepare your work space. No, this is not procrastination - though it will be if your clean-up turns into a major overhaul – rather it is an integral part of your preparation. Make sure that your study space:
  • Is cool enough for comfort. Remember that you can always put on a jumper later if you start to feel chilly.
  • Has enough natural or overhead light that you can read and write comfortably.
  • Offers a quiet environment away from distractions such as your radio, TV or Internet connection.
  • Provides storage for your mobile phone, mp3 player and any other gadgets that you routinely check.
  • Includes a door, so that you can let others know that you are busy and do not want to be disturbed.
  • Supplies a desk large enough for you to spread out your materials and a chair comfortable enough for you to sit for 30 to 45 minutes at a stretch.

Set Some Goals

Rather than just flipping open a book and hoping you’ll absorb something, set yourself some goals for your work session. When you vaguely know you need to read something it is much easier to put off your studying, but when you know that you need to read three chapters and it will only take you 30 minutes it is much easier to buckle down and get to work. Many students find it helpful to set small goals for their work sessions, such as:
  • Reading a certain number of pages or chapters.
  • Writing a certain number of words, paragraphs or pages.
  • Solving a certain number of problems or questions.
  • Reviewing a certain number of pages or topics.
  • Getting through a certain number of small tasks or chores.
  • Finishing each session with a “to do” list for the next go.

Offer Rewards

A lot of times we forget to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, and never more so than when we are in a panic and are pressed for time. Regardless of when you finally get to work, offer yourself some rewards for a productive session. Each time you accomplish one of your goals; allow yourself a small treat to celebrate the milestone. Make sure the treats are small and can be completed in approximately 15 minutes, however, or you simply run the risk of procrastinating before getting back to work. Many students find it helpful to reward themselves with:
  • Walking outside for some fresh air.
  • Preparing and consuming healthy snack.
  • Checking their email inbox.
  • Picking up a book or magazine for a change of subject.
  • Engaging in a brief yoga routine.
While no one likes to admit to it, everyone is susceptible to procrastination. Figure out what works for you, whether it’s to mark off one full day to blitz through your work or one hour a night to work along steadily, and stick to this routine. Everyone will have different tips and techniques for avoiding procrastinating, but in the end it is only you who can actually sit down and get to work. Good luck!

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