“I’ll do it tomorrow.” Everyone says it at one point or another. But when putting it off until tomorrow becomes the next day, and then your teacher is asking why your homework is late, then you have an issue with procrastination, and I’m here to help!
Procrastination is a habit that we all have fallen into and, unfortunately, some of us are caught in the “hamster wheel” more often than others. I’ve been working with high school students for over eight years as a Skills and Academic Support teacher, and I have seen every form of procrastination, as well as the anxiety that often comes along with it. Below I’ve outlined a few tips that I’ve found to be successful with my students and easy to implement.
Before getting into my tips for avoiding procrastination, it’s important to first understand the reasons why you are hesitating to get your homework or studying done. Much like the following strategies, the reasons behind procrastination from vary person to person. Common reasons include the fear of failure, the a fear of perfection, and even the fear of success. To learn more about the reasons behind procrastination, and to take a short quiz to help uncover your specific reasons, check out this great article from Psychology Today.
Now that you’ve thought about why you may be procrastinating, let’s outline some thoughts and strategies that have helped my students to get things done on time!
1. Remember: One size doesn’t fit all
This might be the most important point of all in terms of procrastination. After speaking to a group of four juniors, it became evident that there is no “one size fits all” answer to breaking the procrastination habit. What may work for you might not work for your friend. Finding what works for you is best, so be open to trying a few different strategies.
2. Shutting off your WiFi
This may seem tough if you’re supposed to be working on the internet, but so many apps and sites have an offline function. You can also screenshot documents, articles, etc. for reading offline so you stay focused.
3. Closing all of your apps and tabs
Pretty obvious here, but shutting down any possible distraction is always helpful. The tricky part is sticking to not reopening a tab. Netflix, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, are often tabs consistently open for students these days. There’s even a way to make Netflix smaller and in the corner as you write on Google Drive! Close it out, close it all out and come back to it as a reward after you get at least 20 minutes of work done. You’ll amaze yourself at how much you can accomplish in 20 minutes with no distractions.
It can be difficult to muster the willpower to not check these distracting sites. Luckily, there are tools to help. If you use Google Chrome, the Block & Focus app will allow you to chose a list of websites that you want to block for a certain amount of time. If you try to access the sites within the window of time you choose, the websites will be blocked and in their place will be shown a motivational phrase.
4. Listen to music
I cannot believe I’m suggesting this as an anti-procrastination strategy but I swear by putting in some headphones, putting on some relaxing music, and getting to work is the only way I get things done these days. I find that I focus on the rhythm and try to type to it. Setting a playlist of music that relaxes you and helps you relax can actually be very helpful in being focused and accomplishing your work.
If you want to try out a great studying playlist, listen to Soundtrack for Study on Spotify.
5. Quiet space or busy space
Quiet doesn’t always work for people, especially those with busy minds. It’s like yoga, it works for those who can compartmentalize. For those of us who can’t shut off, sometimes a busier place is better. I find the library to be more distracting, actually. I prefer to do work where my eyes can take the breaks they need from the computer screen without getting stuck on a show or a rabbit hole of memes. Find what kind of environment works for you.
If you can’t get to a busy place, such as a coffee shop, you can always bring the coffee shop to you. The website Coffitivity will create the ambient coffee shop noise of lattes being brewed and indistinct conversations that can help many people keep focus on the studying or homework at hand.
At the end of the day, it comes down to having awareness that getting something done and handed in feels significantly better than having it weigh on your shoulders. Anxiety creeps in when we start falling behind and that’s never a good feeling. So, when you know you have something on your to-do list and you’re considering putting it off, think twice. Try a new way of focusing, break up the task, settle in and get to work. You won’t regret it. Consider checking out our post about time management tips from current students, it may help get you started!