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How to Stop Procrastinating

A Little Work Now Can Avoid Big Problems Later


Asian student studying at table
JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

Have a pattern of leaving things to the last minute? Learning how to stop procrastinating during your time in college can literally change your life -- for the better. After all, if you've made it to college, you obviously know how to do things successfully, right? Follow the steps below to learn how to stop procrastinating once and for all.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Decide on a time management system and use it -- for one month. Having an awesome time management system isn't going to do you any good if you don't stick with it. And sticking with a strong time management system means you'll be the tortoise (slow and steady) with your college workload instead of the procrastinating rabbit (racing at the end). There are tons of time management systems available; choose one and stick with it, no matter what, for 30 days. After that, it should feel like a habit and you can consider your procrastination partly cured.
  2. Have someone else hold you accountable. Not good at making yourself sit down and write that paper when there's tons of fun stuff going on right down the hall? Find a friend who is either great at time management or who wants to stop procrastinating, too. Have them hold you accountable for how you're spending your time so you aren't stuck with 3 papers to write, at the last minute, within 2 days.
  3. Get help from folks on campus. Chances are, your campus has some awesome support services you may not even know about, like professors who are great at mentoring, class advisers, academic support offices, teaching and learning centers, or even a rock-star hall director or TA. And chances are, you aren't the first student who will come to them for help with procrastination. Ask them to mentor you as you try to break your procrastination habit. If you're in college, why not learn from the best while you're there?
  4. Talk with your professors. If you know procrastination is a problem for you, talk to your professors as soon as possible to set up a system where you, for example, have to turn in drafts of your paper throughout the semester -- instead of just the final paper, right at the end. Doing so will help make sure you are constantly staying on track while also helping your grade.
  5. Track your time for 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month ... You might be shocked to see where all of your time goes. Using your time management system (see #1, above), write down how you spend your days in as much detail as possible. Then look to see patterns that you can help plan around as you aim to end your procrastination pattern. For example, do you usually spend 3 or 4 hours just hanging out once you return to your residence hall after classes finish? Realize that you probably need an hour or so to decompress -- and that after that, you might be better off heading to the library so you can get some study time in.

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