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5 tips - how to stop procrastination as a student

By summer intern and NextGen Ambassador Sophronia Cheung


Looking at the pile of homework on your desk, the never-ending to-do list, the essays to complete, the group projects that no one has started, the chemistry test all due tomorrow… that’s when you finally realize you shouldn’t have pushed everything to the last minute.


Procrastination is the bane of every student’s existence. You know it’s bad but you can’t stop. It’s easy to ignore deadlines and put off the inevitable, especially when we have other responsibilities like family, work, and other obligations. However, in the end, you are just more stressed and now you are even stressed about being stressed. It’s a never-ending cycle. No doubt not the recipe for success. So here are 5 tips for you to get a grip and turn your life around and finally stop procrastination!


1. Find the environment that best suit you

First thing first, get rid of all distractions! Find a location that works for you. It can be the library, a coffee shop, a lawn. Sometimes people work best when they are alone while some have to study with others being productive around them holding them accountable. But never study with your close friends, chances are nothing will get done, let’s be honest. Instead, find an accountability partner, someone you trust can set you straight.

Now, turn off your phone, put it in the drawer or give it to your mom, block your access to your email and all the distracting social media websites to stop yourself from stalking people in their sixth grade using apps for your computer (eg. SelfControl for mac where a timer can be set), distance yourself from your annoying sibling even… Try listening to some music as well. In one of our next posts we will share our Spotify playlists that can help clear your mind and help you focus. It’s all about finding what works best for you.


2. Identify roadblocks

Find out the root problem of your procrastination. Why are you delaying? Is it because you don’t know where to start? Or are you lost and don’t understand the concepts in your class? Or maybe you are a perfectionist and is scared of failing or getting a bad grade? No matter the reason, if you don’t solve the cause, you will never start.


Take the time to ask for help, whether it’s from your teachers or classmates to understand the materials, notes, and homework guidelines. And stop stressing! It’s easier said than done but just know you can’t win them all, just try your best. It’s also not the end of the world if you fail a test. A year later, it probably won’t matter. You will be much more confident and motivated after that.


3. Break it down

You tell yourself you have 12 hours on Sunday to study do your homework because you have that much work left. Being a habitual procrastinator, it’s normal to sit for hours long just to finish an essay before a deadline. But this can actually stress you out even more. Break down those 12 hours into manageable chunks and steps. Plan ahead and work on those chunks bit by bit. By setting simpler goals first and starting it easy like working on the into part of your essay, you will be feel less overwhelmed. It can be as painless as forcing some words on the page no matter if it makes sense or not. Try setting midpoint deadlines to hold yourself accountable as well. Once you start, it’s easier to finish as well. Writing out a schedule with a detailed list of tasks will help eliminate the feeling of being lost or uncertain that makes you procrastinate and find distractions in the first place.


4. Take breaks

I can’t stress enough how important it is to give yourself a break. Even when you are cramming for a test with a few hours left, having a 5-10 minute break in between will help you recuperate and feel motivated again. It’s easy to burn out when you work for 3 hours straight.

That's not what we mean with taking a (coffee) break

Try implementing the Pomodoro Technique -- a time management strategy invented by Francesco Cirillo. It helps to increase productivity by dividing your workday into highly focused chunks of 25 minutes separated by short breaks (5 minutes). Once you have finished four pomodori, you can take a 20- to 30- minute break and repeat the same cycle until everything is done. Here is an online timer that does it for you.


The technique helps make the small work chunks a lot less overwhelming and helps reduce any distraction, hindering procrastination. Permitting yourself to take breaks in between also pushes you to work harder and get in the zone between as well.


5. Use incentives

Whether you’re a 5 year old kid or a 80 year old grandma, you need rewards to motivate you and push you towards the end goal. It’s vital to give yourself incentives, no matter how small or simple it is after finishing your tasks on time. It can be going to the movies to watch the latest Marvel movie after your finals or even just eating a piece of chocolate after you finish studying a chapter. When something is at stake, you would work harder in order to achieve it and when these small achievements accumulate, greater successes will have a higher chance of forming.


There you go! These are the tricks to stop procrastination. Just beware, finding your best study methods is a trial and error but you will be able to conquer it in the end.


Here’s to no more all-nighters!

(Now get back to work!)

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